5 minutes with the owner of The Farmhouse at Stonefields

From an overgrown shamble, The Farmhouse was transformed and incorporated into one of Victoria's most beautiful gardens, Stonefields. Paul Bangay shares a little bit about how The Farmhouse came about and it's recent soft makeover.
Paul Bangay The Farm House

Tell us something about your property. Do you know the history?

It is a Farmhouse style property sitting on 50 acres of grazing farmland. The style was intended to reflect the surrounding use of the land, which is quite beautiful undulating farmland. A vital part of the design was the garden created around the building, this consists of deep beds of flowering perennials, large crab-apple lawns and a small orchard. Situated next to the iconic Stonefields garden the farmhouse is an integral part of the entire estate. When I first bought The Farmhouse it was hidden behind an overgrown mass of shrubs, but I could see it’s potential to be freed from this smothering so that it could sit charmingly within its very open rural setting. The house has lovely views northwest to a hill, a perfect view for sunsets. The addition of new plantings of oaks and crab-apples in the surrounding paddocks help connect it to the landscape. The very generous forecourt in front of The Farmhouse gives it a great feeling of space. It is then delightfully surrounded by the deep perennial borders that are a blaze of colour through spring, summer and autumn. I have used some of my favourite perennials including Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff, Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’, Agastache ‘Sweet Lili’ & ’Heronswood Mist’, Salvia nemerosa and Nierembergia caerula ‘Blue Wonder’.

Paul Bangay The Farmhouse

What was your inspiration when creating your holiday home?

The inspiration came from my love of large French farmhouses. It is a simple, but honest design, and feels like it belongs in the landscape, with the surrounding countryside and perennial flower garden. The render colour is the same tones as the rich volcanic soil; the deep veranda is shaded by flowering wisteria to help integrate it further into the garden. I wanted that feeling of both belonging to the landscape, and when inside still feeling connected and a part of the garden.

Why did you choose this region as the location of your holiday home?

I love the climate, its cold winters are perfect for sitting by the large open fire and the summers are mild with cooler nights. It’s also the perfect area to garden in, with its rich soil and mild climate and abundance of water. The location is also perfect as it surrounded by all the best regional restaurants in Victoria, being 15 min from Trentham, Kyneton and Daylesford. So for me, I get the best of all worlds, a brilliant gardening environment, the quiet and serenity of the country and a world-class meal at the end of a long day – perfection!

What is your favourite part of the property?

The wisteria covered pergola shading the outdoor dining area because being able to dine under a wisteria reminds me of alfresco lunches in Tuscany. The wisteria also festoons the whole façade of The Farmhouse that looks spectacular when in flower in spring and very calming when all green over the warmer months. In autumn it turns colour to a buttery yellow, very festive again. It is a beautifully fragrant plant that is a feast for all the senses.

Winter Retreats

Tell us about the recent renovations/refurbishment.

We had Adelaide Bragg do a complete renovation of all the soft furnishings using Colfax and Fowler and similar high-end fabrics. We love her style and approach; she has introduced a warm colour scheme to The Farmhouse adding more sofas and chairs to the living room and new layers of fabrics and lighting to all the bedrooms. The property just keeps getting better and better as the garden matures and we add to the interiors and exteriors, it really is a special place to be.

Paul Bangay The Farmhouse

What sort of experience do you want your guests to have when staying at your property? 

We know that a lot of people come from the city and lead very busy hectic lives. The Farmhouse offers the perfect opportunity for relaxing and unwinding from hectic schedules in the surrounding garden. The flowerbeds themselves are delightful to look at and smell and the calming views across to the hills are so serene that we hope that guests cannot help but unwind. Walking in the quiet surrounding countryside is another highlight that we hope people enjoy, exploring country lanes and meeting lovely farm animals along the way. I love the smell of the country, the freshness and the earthiness of it is so good for the mind body and soul. It gives me great pleasure to allow guests a special visit to the main garden at Stonefields. Guests who book a stay at The Farmhouse are treated to a self-guided tour of the gardens at an allocated time. It’s an intimate time for a lot of garden enthusiasts who can really immerse themselves in the design and ambience of the space, this is a wonderful experience not only for them but also for me knowing the great joy people get out of the tour.

What is your favourite time of the year to visit the region and why?

I love winter. Everything slows down and feels settled. I find sitting by the fire so relaxing and enjoyable, it’s a time of deep rest for me. Once rested I love to walk in the brisk weather outdoors, I walk for miles around the property, checking on the garden, the cows and generally taking in the peace and quiet.

Paul Bangay The Farmhouse

What do you think is special about this region?

Definitely the food and wine, we are blessed with wineries and amazing restaurants very close, my favourites being lunch at du Fermier at Trentham and also Passing Clouds at Musk, breakfast at Cliffy’s Daylesford and dinner at Midnight Starling Kyneton.

If you were to create an itinerary for the perfect weekend stay in the region, from check in to check out, what would this include? 

I would suggest people start the day at Cliffy’s in Daylesford for breakfast. Then in my mind, nothing beats Du Fumier in Trentham for lunch.

Because I think it’s impossible to eat too much of Annie’s food, I would stay in at The Farmhouse and make the most of the rare opportunity to get Annie Smithers catering at The Farmhouse for dinner.

In between feasting, visits to the local nurseries, Frogmore in Blackwood and Lambley in Clunes are a real delight.

And lastly, walks around the garden and quiet surrounding country roads will really immerse people in the best this lovely region has to offer.

What Guests are Saying About Paul Bangay The Farmhouse

Time away is all about having a delightful experience and our stay at The Farmhouse exceeded expectations. The open plan was lovely and we spent quite a lot of time chilling out in front of the fire. The tour of Paul Bangays house was amazing such a beautiful garden. We also had Annie Smithers come in and cook for us one night which was brilliant. Very good value and a beautiful experience.

Sally – June 2017

We have just spent a wonderful weekend at The Farmhouse and would love to express our appreciation of this beautiful place. We just loved sitting around the roaring fire on those wonderfully comfortable couches. All facilities are first class and thanks for turning on the beautiful crisp evenings with clear skies, wonderful frosty mornings and the troop of kangaroos.

Jill – August 2017

We had a wonderful stay at the Farmhouse, the house was cosy and beautifully styled, our visit to the Stonefields garden was a super treat, as was the amazing meal Annie Smithers prepared for us. It was all just lovely! Thank you!

Kim – October 2017