The Lark House, Daylesford review: The fine cotton affair

Read our writer's views on this property below

Frances Atkinson and friends stitch up a creative break with crochet and conversation.

You know what it's like. You book the weekender. You get excited. Then you open the front door to find the house is smaller, darker and less appealing than the pictures on the website. Not this time. The first 40 minutes of our stay at The Lark House is like a photo shoot, so compelling is the need to capture every stylish corner of this 1860s house that has been designed to inspire.

From the Cath Kidston sailing-boat wallpaper in the bathroom to the row of Twinings tea tins lined up on the mantel and the china cabinet crowded with teacups, there is a visual treat behind every door. As we explore the house, we can hear squeals from at least one person in our group of six women as they find bookshelves heaving with copies of Frankie and Country Living and a hamper stocked with organic eggs, fresh bread from Trentham's fantastic Red Beard Bakery and a jar of local honey.

After discovering the two lounge areas, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and medium-size kitchen, there is a final surprise to be found in the little white shed in the backyard. The compact space has been transformed into a sewing room, complete with sewing machine and a wall of drawers stocked with the basics - cottons, embroidery thread, patterns, scissors, ric-rac and buttons - and as in the main house, there are those extra touches to appreciate: a small couch, electric kettle and crystal chandelier.

If you're interested in craft or being creative, the house, with its proliferation of faded cotton quilts and modern vintage touches, is nothing short of pure inspiration. It does for the craft-inclined what the gingerbread house did for Hansel and Gretel - resistance is useless. But for those guests who would rather stick pins in their eyes at the very mention of quilting, there's plenty of other things to do. That's the beauty of the house - the balance between doing and doing nothing is pretty much perfect.

The couches are comfy, a wing-backed chair by the window is in the right spot for reading and the long table, with its collection of pale green wooden chairs, provides the ideal place to spread out projects and chat.

Daylesford is Victoria's premium spa area. We venture into the bracing chill to check out the monthly Daylesford Makers Market (the next one is September 3) at the Town Hall, which has plenty of stalls to hold our interest.

The owners and renovators of The Lark House, Allison and Paul Jones, have a distinctive aesthetic - "The Lark Look", you might call it. It's already been featured in glossy magazines and countless blogs. There's not a corner of the house that wouldn't be out of place in any book by interior designer and photographer duo Emily Chalmers and Debi Treloar and, in some ways, it's a visual extension of the business they run off nearby Duke Street. The Lark Shop is a homewares and gift store with a crafty bent that stocks a large range of quirky items, made locally or from around the world, including Allison's own Lark brand of knitted toys - everything from the large selection of interior design books to the brightly coloured melamine cups beckon for a closer look.

Dinner Saturday night is at Jasmine Thai, three kilometres away in Hepburn Springs, and while the food isn't exactly amazing, a couple of the main courses (especially the vegetarian red curry with crispy tofu) hit the spot, the spices cutting through the icy wind blowing outside.


There's plenty of outdoor space at The Lark House, including a large backyard with secure fencing, so pets can roam safely.

Apart from a few excursions, the weekend is made of conversations (none of which can be repeated here, lest they offend those with more delicate sensibilities), catching up, crocheting and generous splashes of good wine in between the laughs.

Another, less obvious, highlight that deserves special mention is the beds. On both mornings, everyone remarks how well they slept. The high-quality mattresses are firm, the linen is crisp and fresh and there is even a selection of firm and soft pillows.

On Sunday, despite the late checkout (noon), no one wants to rush home. Daylesford is blanketed in a thick fog, which inspires a conversation about getting trapped in town, which leads to the question: "How long do you think it would take, if we all had to stay here, before we drove each other nuts?"

Considerably longer, it is decided, providing we could all stay at The Lark House.

Visitors' Book

The Lark House

Address Bookings made via Daylesford Getaways, see

Cost $1300 for weekend. Sleeps eight. Well-behaved pets welcome.

Getting there Daylesford is about 1 1/2 hours' drive fromMelbourne.

Summary Impeccable, modern, vintage-style property that is charming, inspiring and pretty as a picture.

Verdict 18.