Meet the face behind The Wensley - the rustic luxury barn stay that was home to our most recent MCM House campaign. Fran and her husband Mike were inspired by other Australian shed-like designs and embarked on creating a striking, angular home that formed a frame that would perfectly capture the view through the valley. The build took two years, and once complete Fran untook her favourite part, the styling.
INTRODUCE YOURSELVES - WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO
My name is Fran Derham and I’m a film/tv producer by day and an Airbnb hostess by night
HOW DID THE CONCEPT OF THE WENSLEY COME ABOUT?
The Wensley is a product of two peoples different taste, needs and wants! My husband Michael is a builder / developer and I’m a film producer - so we’re both quite creative and through our work we’re constantly exposed to great examples of architecture, interiors and styling.
Initially Michaels vision was to create an Australian shed like house out of recycled bits and pieces - doors, windows, timber that Mike had been collecting out of refurbs that he was working on in the Melbourne CBD… but then things just snowballed. We were inspired by the Glen Murcutt Kempsey Farm House - along with the Plain Hill House
And when we got our mate Nick Byrne of Byrne Architects on board we knew we had a project on our hands.
WHAT WAS THE PROCESS FOR THIS COMING TO LIFE?
It was very gradual, we were both super busy with work - I was making ads and Mike was running other building jobs so it was slow. And because we both wanted it to be incredible it took two years to build and we painstakingly selected all our finishes ourselves.
TALK US THROUGH YOUR STYLE AND USE OF MATERIALS IN THE HOME.
For me it’s about the overall concept of the house and how it fits into the idea of the place. Everything always evolves but having an idea of what you’re creating from the outset is always helpful. The aim was to give it the interiors and soft furnishings an elegant yet inviting feel. A level of sophisticated that juxtaposes the rustic feel of the house - which elevates the look creating that feeling of casual luxury. We used a palette of leather, brass, terracotta hues, whites and soft blues to compliment the timber interior.
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING FURNITURE AND OBJECTS?
The Wensley has incredible views through a valley to the east - and all the windows are sliding doors … the view is the art and we furnished the place to compliment both the view and the timber. Because of the recycled timber, and the brushed finish (it has no sealant or coating on it) it’s really raw and the furniture and fittings really needed to reflect that. The MCM Deep Joe couches that we have are perfect because the way there finished reflects the relaxed feel of the place but the mist coloured linen brings a level of sophistication and luxury that the needs.
If I don’t know exactly what I want - I ask an expert. There’s something to say for collaboration and I had help from both Lisa Buxton and Tess Newman Morris on furniture and styling pieces. I’m so used to working in a team that I need someone to bounce off.
WHERE DO YOU LOVE TO DRAW INSPIRATION FROM?
Friends and film mainly, and instagram has opened up a huge visual world that is just ripe for the picking. But sometimes there’s too much and you just have to stop looking and concentrate on stuff that you like.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
Hopefully another place… Wensley is the dream country escape and now Mike and I are dreaming up the dream house to live in! All good things take time (well that’s what I’m telling myself anyway).
FAVOURITE PLACE TO HOLIDAY?
Any mountain with snow
FAVOURITE GAME TO PLAY WITH FRIENDS?
Never have you ever (wow I’m still a teenager)
YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE TO COOK WITH FRIENDS?
Nigella Lawsons Mirin Glazed Salmon
FAVOURITE PLACE IN YOUR HOME TO SHOW OFF TO GUESTS?
Kitchen… having drinks and food around the bench with friends is the best.
GUILTY PLEASURE SONG?
Cake - Going The Distance
FAVOURITE SPACE IN THE HOUSE?
In front of the fire - either in the living room or fire-pit overlooking the view.
Additional Photography by Lisa Cohen and Matt McKay