Artist Ros Matson enjoys the tones and textures of nature and handmade objects. She’s also always loved the 1890s mud and straw cottage nestled in the Adelaide Hills on her in-laws’ house in Australia. When managing the house and glancing the slippery slopes became too much for her father-in-law, Ros and her husband, Terry Matson, purchased the gorgeous pocket of land and its textured residence.
Employing the surrounding environment and the cottage’s unique character as their guide, the Matsons worked together with local builders to give the outside a much-needed upgrade and include a fresh kitchen, living space and painting studio. Nodding to the German family of eight who built the house, home now serves as a refuge for all their extended family.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Ros and Terry Maston
Location: Uraidla, South Australia
Size: 264 square meters (2,842 square feet); 3 bedrooms, two baths and art studio
Remodel cost: $80,000 Australian (roughly U.S.$71,992), such as materials, appliances and labor
That is intriguing: The dining table once belonged to shearers and includes their domains. The Matsons continue the tradition by asking people to add their own.
“Although we had a bigger area, we were determined that it didn’t detract from your smaller proportions of their original cottage,” Ros says. “We wanted to utilize local builders that felt a connection to the history behind the cabin”
The couple found a British father-and-son team to invent and design exposed metal trusses to hold the huge gabled rafters from the open kitchen and living room. The remodel increased the view across the valley with walls of windows facing north and west; a relationship with the outside was a priority.
The white sofas are reupholstered favorites.
Ceramic platters: Nation Road
The kitchen has been slowly simplified over time. “It did undergo an open-dresser appearance, but that was a while past,” says Ros, pictured here. The kitchen now has a compact functionality, with stained walnut countertops and stainless steel cupboards. All the water for your home is collected in rainwater tanks on the house; wastewater is treated onsite.
The mud-brick shell was advantageous to work with as it was simple cutting into, ” says Ros. However, the consistency of the sand and straw meant the fine, powdery clay went anywhere when they stripped off the home from floor to ceiling. The mud-brick walls retain heat in winter and cool the cottage in summer.
Bar Condominiums: Tolix, Thonet
After the homeowners dug a dam in the base of the valley, they found an old garbage heap that held this rustic terra-cotta bud.
The views from the surrounding vineyards steal the display from the dining room. The dining table is a well-loved original shearer’s dining table from Hahndorf, together with the shearers’ names carved into the wood. Ros says, “We are happy for anybody who visits to perform the same; it retains kids and sometimes adults amused for hours.”
Dining chairs: Maui by Vico Magistretti, Space Furniture
The house lies in the base of a valley in a high-rainfall region, making gum (rubber) boots and a mudroom essential in winter months. This side entry connects using the driveway for simple access into the living space and kitchen.
French doors connect the older home with the newest addition. The new living room is a large, open area, but it retains the character of the older cottage through the use of old red bricks for floors, also paneled windows and gabled beams.
“During the wintertime, time spent about the open fire in the middle room or sharing the fire pit outside still appear to be favorites for our loved ones members and friends,” says Ros. “We forget how ducted heating, though fabulously warm, takes away our lovely earthy, nurturing and comforting connection to winter” The ceramic bowls on the mantel were bought at an art-student fundraiser.
The hallway to the front entry shows Ros’ love of natural colors and textures. The textile art is a gift from her daughter, who functions as a housewares designer for Nation Road. “I like the irregular instead of exactness of a commodity, along with the tactile surfaces of whatever else,” Ros says.
Textile art: Sophie Matson; tripod tables: reclaimed Australian hardwood, Justin Hermes
“It was a significant challenge to understand that the cottage was originally only a square divided into four chambers,” Ros says. “We assume that there were two bedrooms, a kitchen and lounge.” The home has been built by a German family of eight that also built another mud-brick cottage in the region; this is the bigger one. The front four chambers of the cottage are kept as original as possible and are installed as three bedrooms and a lounge room.
Bed: French provincial; rug: Stockholm, Ikea
“I really like the stripes and textures of nature, and I try not to ‘decorate’ as such,” Ros says. “The cottage was a worker’s home, so things that sit appear to be simple vessels, like bowls and jugs which are used daily.” She often decorates with blossoms she finds on the house.
This bedroom, utilized by one of the few grandchildren, is a portion of their original residence and includes original raw-wood doors, floorboards, a slat hardwood ceiling and salvaged wooden furniture. The art next to the bed came from a flea market in Adelaide.
Neon cushion: Nation Road
A collection of old toys provides a bit of lively nostalgia. “Over the years everyone has spent time residing at Uraidla. It’s been a round-robin of kids, grandchildren and in-laws,” Ros says. “We’ve had family members and friends’ weddings and countless family occasions.”
Painting: Abbey McCulloch; rug: Flourish Present and Home
Consideration has been given to wheelchair access from the new toilet.
Fixtures: Early Settler Recollections, Adelaide
The old bathroom has a classic claw-foot bathtub, original-style doors plus a slat wood ceiling. Ros painted the black art piece supporting the tub.
A attic to one side of the home, which may have been a cold room for hanging meats, is now a small art studio incorporated into the main living area. These are a few of Ros’ recent paintings. Because of the huge scale of her work, she also paints in Fontanelle studio near the city.
Ros’ paintings are always driven by colour, whatever the subject. The instinctive actions that guide her are evident in her newest abstracts.
Ros and Terry planted about 150 olive trees, Manzanilla and Paragon, around the property. “We press on the olives annually and produce ample oil to last our friends and family the calendar year,” she says. “The trees haven’t been irrigated or fertilized, so we can honestly state the oil is pure organic”
“It is intriguing to realize that 100 years ago, the home was artfully positioned so that the sun beamed to the kitchen in the afternoon and set in the day over the front porch. This is a great place for relaxing to watch the sunlight — very calming,” says Ros.
Wood gathered on the house fuels fires in the living room along with a fire pit outside. The front entry to the home and its doors and sash windows have been restored.
The cottage sits at the conclusion of a private dirt road. “Although there’s been considerable debate about sealing our private street, aesthetically I really like it how it is. In regards to bitumen horrifies mepersonally,” says Ros.
“It might be the quietness of the valley, the greenness of the paddocks and the natural surroundings, or the shadow and silence of the nighttime, the open fires and also the brightness of the stars, but the home and quiet surroundings have been able to evoke emotional reactions and de-stress the most stressed visitor over several years,” says Ros.
Read more homes by design:
Little Homes | Colorful Homes | Eclectic Homes | Modern Homes | Contemporary Homes
Midcentury Homes | Ranch Homes | Traditional Homes | Barn Homes
Townhouses | Apartments | Lofts | Holiday Homes
Please show us your creative dwelling