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Design Destination: Aframe Kangaroo Valley

Design Destination: Aframe Kangaroo Valley
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Aframe Kangaroo Valley is what perfect weekends away are made of. Situated on a paradisal parcel of land just two hours from Sydney and Canberra, this new architect-designed cabin welcomes guests to disconnect from the daily grind, reconnect with nature, and it’s available to book through Airbnb now. 

 

Photo By Hayley Rafton
Photo By Hayley Rafton
Cradled between the Southern Islands and the NSW South Coast, Aframe Kangaroo Valley is a slice of heaven just outside the city. The land was purchased in 2018 by owners and life partners Sophie Lord and Ben Gray, who had been searching for a small cottage to restore in Kangaroo Valley. Engulfed by thigh-high weeds, overgrown bamboo, rusty tractor parts, dilapidated sheds and with no septic system, water or power, the 16-acre property certainly wasn’t what they were looking for, but as Sophie says, “something about it just felt right. While any sane person would have run for the hills, we made an offer right there and then”. 
Sophie, who is the creative director and publisher of Hello May, and Ben, an architect, spent two years camping on the property and running their businesses all while they cleared the neglected land, rejuvenated the earth and built their dream home. “Showering in the creek with a watering can was fun for the first 12 months… but after that it got pretty old,” recalls Sophie. “The most exciting moment was watching our amazing builder Cam from Greensmith & Co. and his team erect the 14 As that form the ‘Aframe’ structure.”

 

“We’ve got 16 acres of backyard, along with a fresh water creek to swim in. Dusk and dawn is when the kangaroos, echidnas and wombats come out to play.”

Sophie and Ben made sure that their Aframe cabin was designed as responsibly and sustainably as possible, starting with the structure, which was built using re-milled telegraph poles. Australian-grown, highly regenerative Spotted Gum was chosen for the walls, ceilings and floors, 150-year-old terracotta roof shingles are now bathroom floor tiles and the deck is made from recycled timber. Even the gorgeous cast iron clawfoot bathtub is 130 years old. “Finding an alternative use for the building materials we already have rather than manufacturing something new was the highlight of this project. Ben lives and breathes the ethos that sustainability is achieved through longevity, so sourcing quality materials, fixtures and finishes that would last for generations to come was important to us,” Sophie says. Every purchase was carefully researched, too. “Our brass tapware was made by a family-owned company in Adelaide, our glass pendants were made by a glass blower in regional Victoria, and I even made sure our mattresses were manufactured locally.” Of course, the furnishings are suitably minimal and well-made with a focus on natural materials and Australian brands, such as the Pop and Scott sofa and Pampa textiles.

 

 

Photo By Janneke Storm
Photo By Hayley Rafton
This mindful, slow-living philosophy applies to every part of Aframe, right down to the details. You won’t find a television, or coffee pods in the kitchen. Instead, guests are treated to board games and a library of books, and coffee is made with a glass pot and “good old-fashioned paper filters”. The hot tub outside, which offers a front row view of the starry night sky and surrounding escarpment, is wood-fired. It takes a few hours to heat, which is just enough time to enjoy a glass of wine and cheese platter on the deck while you wait. “You’ll be rewarded with the most satisfying and relaxing soak of your life,” Sophie says. For guests wishing to explore the property, she adds, “we’ve got 16 acres of backyard, along with a fresh water creek to swim in. Dusk and dawn is when the kangaroos, echidnas and wombats come out to play.”
A stay at Aframe allows guests to experience life at a slower pace, but there are also plenty of things to see and do around the local area. “We’re less than ten minutes from the historic village of Kangaroo Valley, and a 25-minute drive to nearby Bowral, Berry and Burrawang,” says Sophie, who recommends exploring the town and stopping for lunch and gourmet supplies at The General Cafe and Hampton Deli and Dining School. There are also easy hikes to do in the neighbouring national parks — Sophie suggests the Three Views and Fitzroy Falls walking tracks. “We’ve definitely learnt the importance of disconnecting from our screen-heavy lives as often as we can,” reflects Sophie, “and we hope this space encourages guests to do the same”.