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Poets Lodge: Tour this Rustic, Luxe Country Stay

A creative couple’s journey in retaining and restoring an original colonial guesthouse in beautiful Daylesford.

The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle
The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle

Who lives here: Poets Lodge is a luxury guesthouse

Location: Daylesford, Victoria

Decor Style: Country, yet minimal 

Favourite room: The main bedroom in the main house is amazing. It’s really spacious, has a fireplace and French doors that open out to a courtyard that gets the morning sun. I also love the living room and dining room, with the fireplace and the big long table. 

Favourite pieces: My French bed, which came from our holiday home in the south of France.

Biggest Splurge: The Cassina lounge

Biggest Save: Grandma Murphey’s sofa covered in Belgium green velvet in Old Jacks Cottage.

Photography By Abbie Melle
Photography By Abbie Melle

While holidaying in their vintage Toyota Coaster Bus in the picturesque town of Daylesford, in north-west Victoria, Angeline and Richard O’Bryan came across a rundown 1850s colonial house with a ‘For Sale’ sign posted out front. For this creative duo, who had no intentions of moving to the country from their life in Melbourne, it was love at first sight, and within a week the property was theirs.

Their first night in the house was spent on a mattress in the living room, stoking a fire while surrounded by rotted windows and a leaky roof. Unnerved by their decision to take on such a project, Richard a builder by trade, and Angeline, interior designer and product designer and manufacturer of Herringbone blankets and sheepskin, set about restoring the property. From the get-go, the couple committed to retaining and enhancing the existing fabric of the home’s colonial heritage, three years on, and Poets Lodge is one of the most luxurious getaways in beautiful Daylesford.

The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle
The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle

The Home

“We fell in love with it all, the big wrap-around veranda, the original colonial windows (which are so rare now), the main bedroom and it’s private courtyard, big open fires, original floorboards and timber lining. It is just an amazing property,” says Angeline.

During the restoration of what was meant to be their home, the duo decided to reopen the property as a guesthouse. Steps away from the centre of town, and set back off the road, the property has three separate lodgings; the original 1852 colonial Main House, Old Jacks Cottage built in the 1920s as a private residence for a previous owner, and the duo’s own addition, the Garden Loft, a self-contained couples retreat.   

The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle
The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle

Storytelling Interiors

“We restored absolutely everything with original product, except for The Garden Loft which Richard built entirely from reclaimed and recycled material. Even the spiral staircase came from a previous property we owned. Nothing is staged, or for show, it’s a luxurious country home designed for comfort,” says Angeline. 

The restoration of an original colonial property was never going to be an easy feat, but for Angeline and Richard, it was a labour of love. Reconnecting with previous owners, Richard respectfully, and at times painstakingly, restored the homes structural elements while Angeline focussed on the interiors.

Originally from Ireland and having lived in the South of France, Angeline is a collector of beautiful things, including the eclectic artwork that graces the walls of all three lodgings. Collected over the years from Ireland, France, England and Australia, many are original antiques sourced from local auction houses and local store, Found at Hepburn. A few of the newer pieces were painted to look old from La Petite Galerie, an Australian-based painter.

“I love the authentic, working with what I have and adding to it with all original and antique furnishings bought on our travels or locally,” says Angeline. “My French bed came from our holiday home in the south of France, the candelabra from our travels in America, and the dining chairs are original Australian school chairs.”

Adding to these storytelling interiors is the couple’s inherited family library, a feature of the Main House. Plus, cast iron baths in many of the bedrooms, cosy fireplaces and beautiful homewares that were sourced from local stores eCasaDaylesfordManteau Noir, and The Mill Markets Daylesford.

The Main House, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle
The Main House, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle

Luxury Guesthouse

Opening as Poets Lodge in January of 2020, the Main House has four light-filled bedrooms, open fireplaces and secluded reading room, an oversized living and dining room with large fireplace, light-filled country kitchen and outdoor terrace. Old Jacks Cottage, a cosy romantic hideaway with Grandma Murphey’s sofa covered in a stunning green Belgium velvet, a cast iron hip bath and a Ned Kelly Pot Belly Stove. And the newest addition, the Garden Loft has an open fire, steel spiral staircase that leads to a mezzanine bedroom with operable roof windows and a cast iron bath.  

“I feel people want something they don’t have at home when they go away, such as a Victorian hip bath in the bedroom, which many little boutique hotels have in France,” says Angeline. “I don’t work to a particular style; I get inspiration from what I love and what I think people want.”

Visit Victoria
Visit Victoria

The Neighbourhood

In the middle of Victoria’s famous spa country, Daylesford is an oasis of calm and relaxation, where fields of lavender and charming cottages sit amongst acres of fairytale rural landscape. Just an hour from Melbourne, this quaint country town is the type of place you can escape to all-year-round; warm, mineral-rich waters, farmgate produce, award-winning restaurants, and local artisans selling their wares in boutique stores. There is so much charm to this heritage town that sits along the foothills of the Great Dividing Ranges.

Bad Habits Cafe, Photography by Pauline Morrissey
Bad Habits Cafe, Photography by Pauline Morrissey

Angeline’s Favourite Daylesford Hangouts

For breakfast and coffee: Bad Habits Café at The Convent is absolutely beautiful and has some of the best meals in Daylesford.

For lunch: Pancho Café is an amazing café owned by a gorgeous local couple, has the best cake, coffee, and they are really friendly.  

For dinner: Bistro Terroir has an amazing chef who cooks French food, and Surly Goat in Hepburn Springs is delicious. 

For drinks: The Farmers Arms is the cutest local pub with a small bar.

Shop at: Manteau Noir is a local boutique for fashion and homewares, and Pride Furniture makes sustainable timber furniture here in Daylesford.

The one thing you love: Going down to the lake on a sunny afternoon and having a swim – it really is the most beautiful lake to swim in. 

The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle
The Garden Loft, Poets Lodge, Photography by Abbie Melle

Get The Look

If you loved this charming Victorian home tour, check out more of our home tours and start gathering some more home inspiration, or start planning your next romantic getaway to Victoria.