Editor’s note: This story was photographed and written just before the fires in Australia grew to their current devastating state. We were deeply inspired by the women we met in Australia, particularly by their forward thinking approach to sustainability. The fires are a tragic wake up call that we must change the ways we consume, produce, and live our lives in order to protect this planet. Our hearts are with the people and animals who are being directly affected by this crisis, and you can join us in giving to the Australian Red Cross here to help those in need.
When Emma Lane designs a space, she starts at the roots. With the iconic restaurant The Farm, it was a vision of community built around sustainable farming. For the adjoining Gardenshed store, it was the idea of a “field to vessel” shop where people could gather and learn about backyard farming. And with her newest venture The Beach House, it’s the dream of a hotel and event space where guests connect to nature (and each other) in a secluded oasis. She and husband Tom Lane have built their Byron Bay based hospitality business slowly, and with purpose. Each project is created from a salt-of-the-earth, honest dedication to slow living that has become the couple’s trademark.
Emma and Tom’s newly completed home, The Range, is built on this same ethos. It sits on a hilltop just outside Byron Bay, surrounded by a 120 acre Macadamia orchard. Complete with hidden springs and wild kangaroos, the property is an idyllic playground for their four children. Emma designed the space to gracefully accommodate the rough and tumble lifestyle of a family of six, using reclaimed materials that blend seamlessly into the landscape. The result is a space where life feels a bit slower, and decidedly more like how life should be.
Our photoshoot led to cocktails on the porch, and somehow in me securing an impromptu invitation to stay for family dinner. I savored Tom’s slow cooked beef (as well as the lively conversation between the kids about which boarding school colleagues would be joining them for the weekend.) When I mentioned that I had yet to see a kangaroo, they insisted on taking me out after dinner to look for wallabies on the property.
And that’s how I ended up bundled, cocktail in hand, in a golf cart tearing through rows of Macadamia trees with a spotlight. “Dadd-o! There’s one!” “Well spotted, George!” It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and exactly the kind of night that the art of slow living lends itself to.
In the end, the spaces Emma and Tom create aren’t just beautiful. They’re thoughtfully designed stages where life plays out at its most magical.
Your restaurant The Farm is really one of the places that put Byron on the map in terms of food. What led you to leave Sydney and make your life here?
That’s very kind thank you! 10 years ago, we purchased 30 acres on a property in Federal near Byron Bay. Every school holiday we would we spend all our time here enjoying the space and the countryside . Tom had grown up on land on his parent’s farm in Braidwood during his school holidays and had all these ideas of what to do on the land. I have always been interested in nutrition so between us we came up with the idea of growing our own food. It was interesting to see how the kids love of vegetables dramatically increased when they planted and helped grow a variety of different kinds themselves. We had this idea, if we could do this so simply for our kids and make a difference to the way they viewed food then what about setting up a space for a community of children who may never get to experience a working farm.
The Farm was born from this idea and the desire to show people where real food comes from.
In was a team decision to leave Sydney and permanently make the move to Byron so we could start The Farm together. We now provide works shops around simple farming concepts and regenerative farming techniques and invite people to be curious around the area of sustainability that can be adopted at home and by anyone who has access to a small plot of earth. We also educate school groups and run several school holiday programmes. Our ethos is Grow, Feed, Educate and Give Back.
The home you’ve created blends so seamlessly into the landscape. What do you love about this property? What inspired the design of your home?
We love that The Range is surrounded by nature and living on 120 acres there is plenty of privacy and space away from immediate neighbours. Living in the hinterland, you are surrounded by rolling green hills but also lots of red earth and it was from this earthy tone that many of our design choices came from.
Having lived in Spain together over a decade ago, Tom and I became fond of the Spanish architecture, especially farmhouse styled Finca’s, rich terracotta’s and soft rendered walls.
We took the colours and tones from nature. The rust red earth colour influenced the floor finish, we sourced through our friends at Jatana tiles, 300 year old reclaimed terracotta. As this is main surface of the floors it helps to ingeniously disguise the dirt bought in by four kids and a dog. It’s a ‘boots on’ house, the outside flowing through into the inside which makes it relaxed and connects you to the great outdoors. The linen soft furnishings are chosen from the colours seen in the old basalt rock walls and fireplace, warm greys, earthy rusts and warm muted yellows. The walls are a lighter hue of the terracotta resulting in a soft blush. The overall feel is an earthy warmth, that feels like a home.
The Range was built with sustainability at its heart, upcycling and recycling old timers and materials and predominately off grid, this all helps the place sit comfortably into the landscape.
As avid travellers, The Range is available for holiday rental in its entirety.
What’s your motto when it comes to entertaining guests in your home?
Get as much prep done before the guests arrive so you can spend as little time in the kitchen as possible and as much time with them. Make the house inviting – turn down the lights and turn up the tunes, gather flowers from the garden put on a good outfit and a great smile and you can’t help but become a relaxed joyful host.
Can you share a few of your favorite resources for home decor? We’re particularly obsessed with your bed and table linens…
When sourcing items for The Range I look for texture, handmade items with character, and one-off items often found as locally as possible. For example, Pampa is a local store that specialises in ethical handmade items rugs, cushions and throws, I love that no two items are the same as they are all handmade by indigenous artisans, there is a story behind each item. I think this ultimately adds layers of interest in your own home if you have purchased items with a story and that have been created by hand as opposed to by a machine.
Ingredients for Emma’s flower, basil, tomato and buffalo mozzeralla salad. The recipe is featured in the cookbook she authored with Tom, The Farm Community.
You and Tom have a big family — four children makes a family of six! What does a typical weeknight meal look like?
Farm fresh produce (zero food miles), an abundance of vegetables or salad and some slow cooked grass fed beef.
See below for Emma’s flower, basil, tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad recipe, taken from The Farm Community.
Your background is in both advertising and fashion. What designers and brands are you loving right now?
I love everything about My General Store by Michelle Glew Ross – slow fashion made in Australia, beautiful timeless style and fabrics. Also St Agni – a local Byron born brand of handcrafted foot ware, bags and apparel (the gingham dress I wore) it’s all very easy to wear. I also love Tio y Tia hats which are based in the states and handmade by America’s oldest hat maker.
Describe your personal style in 5 words or fewer:
Feminine, simple and timeless, with a little bit of country thrown in
What’s the signature drink or cocktail in your home?
Gin and “Sonic” (that’s gin with a mix of tonic water and soda water) with a slice of citrus and some edible flowers
What’s your favorite after dinner activity or game?
A night time safari around our property spotting Wallaby and searching for tawny frog mouth owls