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“It has meant we all go out into the garden
more often than we used to,” she says. “The
additional space is also useful for solitary
time outs or spending a little time together
as a family in different combinations.”
While the cubby was developed with
the children in mind, Finola admits there
was some ego involved. “I think it was as
much to serve my sense of mischief and
humour, which is why it’s nicknamed
Finola’s Folly,” she says. “The cubby is
adult-height in case I decide we adults will
make better use of it! But I love watching
the children running up the stairway and
across the platform, and it gets great usage
as a sleepover den with their friends.”
In the wise words of Muhammad Ali,
“children make you want to start life over”
and that’s a principle that thrives in the
Barr’s youthful Cottesloe garden.
Designer of the cubby, Finola
Barr, talks child’s play
Did you have any particular i nspiration? The
charming dunny and its quirky slant! Old buildings
should be respected both for their histo ry an d
co ntributio n to posterity. I didn’t wan t to remove
it sin ce it had su ch character, so I decided it would
provide a great base with a trapdoor leading up
fro m its ceiling into the cubby.
What was the childre n’s input? There was plen ty
of en thusiasm. Aisling, my eldest daughter, helped
to paint the interior and gave a number of good
ideas fo r the design of the structu re. All three
helped with the object collage in the ce men t floor
of the dun ny.
How long did it take to complete? On and off,
two months during a rainy winter.
What’s your favourite feature? The stained glass
window in the corrugated iron wall. Its age and
beautiful light adds a sense of histo ry, tex tu re an d
depth to the corrugated iro n. The cubby provides
some sco pe for making quirk y jux tapositio ns
between the old and new.
STOCKISTS Ballentine Garden Designs
balle nti negarde ndesigns .c om .au (co nstruc tio n and lands caping)
Creative Landscaping Services (08) 9306 5489, clswa.com.au
(railway sleepers) Hort Plan (08) 9328 6055, hortplan.com.au
(stag’s head) Shedwallah (08) 9336 1694 (woode n bi-fold windows
and c urtains) Swa nbourne Ha rdwa re Store (08) 9385 1886 (Dulux
paint in Natural white and Half H og Thistle).
“I wanted to create a
was quirky and
comfortable, but which
also provides a quiet
space to inspire thoughts”
07. The unique collection of decorative items includes
newspaper covers dating back to the sinking of the Titanic.
08. A spiral staircase from a salvage yard in Fremantle, sourced
by Finola’s landscaper Michael Ballentine, winds up a tree
overhanging the cubby to a look out at the top, where an old
chandelier dangles in the upper branches.
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