Casas Secretas is a pair of striking rental properties on New South Wales’ north coast. Translating to secret houses, the dwellings are hidden amongst macadamia trees and exotic orchards in the Byron hinterland on an old dairy farm.
The latest addition to the Tintenbar estate is The Dairy – a barn-like holiday home overlooking the hinterland’s rolling hills, designed by mother and daughter owners, Julie Weis and Lucy Haidamous, and completed in 2019 by local builder Jim Cameron.
Moody interiors have been designed to accentuate the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside with the dark colour palette adding atmosphere without distracting from views of the gardens, framed like moving artworks by large windows.
‘The vision for the interiors was first and foremost to showcase the beautiful views of the hinterland from every part of the living space,’ says Weis. ‘We wanted it to be an inviting and cosy farmhouse but also a creative space with sleek architectural lines and a modern feel. The dark, moody vibe created the cosiness but also allowed the beauty of the locally crafted furniture and unique fittings to feature in the space.’
Tall 2.4-metre-high bi-folding doors open onto a deck outside and a path leading to the original dairy structure, which has been turned into an alfresco dining space. Spotted gum flooring, towering ceilings and exposed beams made from recycled bridge timbers add to the rustic feel of the barn. In contrast, timber furniture and handmade ceramics are made by local craftspeople.
The adjacent Italian-style farmhouse, dubbed La Villa, is a labyrinth of vine-covered volumes, secret walkways and outdoor sitting spaces. Surrounded by orchards of citrus, coffee, avocado, black sapotes and guava trees, the gardens connect the large house to an alfresco dining space with a woodfire pizza oven, an infinity pool and a hidden outdoor bathtub.
According to Weis, ‘the gardens are one of the most beautiful features of La Villa. They bring warmth to the house via lots of vines climbing around windows and courtyard arbours. This warmth is combined with an almost prehistoric feel created by areas like the cactus garden which separates The Dairy from La Villa.’