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A Space To Breathe

Belinda Neame and Amanda Whitley


We speak to one woman whose Kangaroo Valley cottage has been transformed into the perfect place.


Sydney is a fast-paced, crowded place, crisscrossed by a network of roads and rail lines. Always moving, always busy. Life moves fast, and the city is never silent — even in the dark of night. It couldn’t be further removed from Kangaroo Valley — a place filled with rich green fields, gurgling creeks, lush rainforest — and no traffic lights.

It’s easy to see what drew Sydney artist and stylist Lisa Madigan and her husband Rob to this location 10 years ago.

“We wanted a beautiful location and an old gem that hadn’t been touched so we could put our own stamp on it,” says Lisa.

“It had to have good bones and a hefty amount of charm. Kangaroo Valley is lush and fertile and so picturesque, offering both the countryside and the coast. We found THE COTTAGE and fell in love instantly.”


And so began Lisa’s transformation of
this 1880s weatherboard structure which, interestingly, used to be home to local newspaper, The Kangaroo Valley Times. Once Lisa and Rob’s home, it’s been reinvented once more as boutique accommodation.

“It was important for me to give THE COTTAGE a sense of place. Surrounded by this incredible natural bounty and country charm, it had
 to have ample elements of raw nature intermingled with luxurious touches, whilst nodding to a simplicity and beauty found in the natural world.”

“As always for me, there needs to be context and continuity within an environment.”


Lisa drew inspiration from nature, history, architecture, art, the things in life that stimulate the senses and give meaning to experience.

“I love to work texturally as much as visually, things need to feel good, be of substance. Creation is storytelling in different incarnations.”


These textural elements play an important part, with layers telling the all-important story; found objects lie alongside fine art, the old and the new, the raw and the polished, detail and openness in equal measure.

“Many pieces have come from my personal collection that has accumulated over the years and other pieces were bought in or created specifically,” says Lisa.


“We custom-built the banquet table and front day bed in place, as well as the kitchen and many other little touches. Some of my original works are throughout, there are plenty of collected touches from nature, beach walks and forest hunts; and vintage finds from abroad and the Southern Highlands and auctions.”


Paint finishes are all white – inside and out – which opens the space and lets the light flood and bounce. It’s grounded by areas of concrete floors and stunning original floorboards.

“The two textures add such warmth and another layer of story. We wanted to celebrate the original features, whilst bringing everything into the now,” says Lisa.


The kitchen has all the beauty of the country, with
 a contemporary and clean edge. Beautiful light, hand-poured concrete bench tops, industrial fittings, stainless steel cupboards and appliances; the space is a workhorse as much as a show pony.

The bathroom also gives the space a sense of raw luxury, the large bathtub and rain shower tying effortlessly into the entire sense of the property as an oasis from the “rush age”.


“Everyone has somewhere to be or something to do and ‘busyness’ is celebrated,” says Lisa. “We all need those moments in our lives when we get to reconnect, with our loved ones, with our friends, with ourselves. At THE COTTAGE, you do feel like you step into another world.”




THE COTTAGE Kangaroo Valley can be booked for stays through Airbnb or direct through [email protected]. THE COTTAGE is also available for intimate events, weddings and location hire.

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Escape for Summer 2016/17. Find out more about Magazine here

Magazine Edition 7: Escape


Belinda Neame

Belinda is HerCanberra's Production Manager. A foodie and lover of handmade, Belinda enjoys nothing more than a good coffee and seeing Canberra businesses thrive. In her 'spare time', Belinda organises the quarterly Canberra street food event, The Forage with her husband Tim. More about the Author


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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