Katherine Harris took a pared-back approach to styling her family property, an incredible 160-year-old barn in Victoria's High Country that won the title of Best Designed Stay at the 2022 Airbnb Host Awards, with thoughtfully chosen pieces that enhance its rustic beauty and echo the natural colours of the surrounding landscape. With a background in hotel and property management and her husband Wade's skills as a builder, Katherine has designed a luxurious and welcoming retreat that is both enjoyed by her family and shared with guests.
Was there a particular look you wanted to achieve at Coombs Hill Barn?
Throughout the whole project, the most important thing was to keep the integrity of the historic timber. To us, the barn structure needed to be the star of the show. That meant that anything else we chose to add to the property needed to be almost understated and blend into the space so as to not outshine the barn wood post and beams. I don't know if we ever had a specific look or aesthetic we wanted to set out to achieve. As we chose items and pieces for the space, we just knew it all had to be tied back to the structure on show.
Did this approach differ when you considered the home as accommodation?
We never intended for Coombs Hill Barn to be an accommodation venue. It was a family property first and once completed we were overwhelmed with the kindness and support for the space from those who visited. We felt like this was a space we could share with others and hope they can also make life-long memories there. For this reason, everything that was chosen was actually chosen for the property because we love each item and it worked for our family.
What are some of the key touches that helped achieve a balance of luxury and comfort?
With so much timber, stone and concrete, I knew we needed to add softness into the space and keep a neutral palette so as to not compete with the barn wood post and beams. We chose light linen sofas and armchairs, plush throws and cushions, lots of lamps for soft lighting and a light paint colour to even out the space.
What are your favourite features in the home?
My personal favourite feature would be the stone fireplace. All of the stone was quarried from the property itself and took 18 months to build by hand, I know the hard work and love that was spent on it and it has a very special place in my heart. Another favourite of mine are the steel-framed windows. These frame the valley and mountain views so perfectly and it's such a delight to sit with a cup of coffee and look out the windows to the mountain view with the morning sunrise.
How did the surrounding landscape inspire the design at Coombs Hill Barn?
The views from the property are second to none. The green valley and mountain views can be seen from almost all rooms in the barn. When deciding on the design and colour palette of the property it was obvious to us that we did not want to compete with the view nor take anything away from it. This is another reason we chose neutral colours and furnishings. We do have a forest green tiled splashback in the kitchen which I love, this actually ties in perfectly with the surrounding greenery and is a nice colour touch to an otherwise very pared-back colour palette.