In 2019, Sophie Bell, director and founder of Peppa Hart design studio, built the home of her dreams. With a little help from fellow friends and expert renovators, The Three Birds, the digital design guru used her meticulous eye to build a sprawling Mediterranean-inspired home. And if you thought Sophie’s Insta-famous family abode was breathtaking, just wait until you see the newest addition to her home.
Using nothing but a design she drew by hand, Sophie and her husband Michael have taken the idea of the humble cubby house to a whole new level. Taking design cues from their love of Mediterranean architecture, the couple have built not one but two luxe adults and kids’ cubby houses, which has everything you (and your five-year-old self) could ever dream of.
While building a cubby house for her two kids, Hendrix and Peppa, was a no-brainer, the idea for an adult cubby came not from a want, but a need for Sophie to have a place of her own to retreat to while her little ones kept themselves busy outdoors. “When looking for locations to build [the cubby houses], the space on the property was far away from the main house — we thought, what are we going to do? Because the kids are still at that age where they want us to be around all the time,” Sophie tells of the idea.
Tucked away in the lush northern hinterlands of NSW, the structure is situated on the couple’s sprawling estate. With white rendered walls and a neutral palette, the cubby houses mirror the home’s pared-back aesthetic and are an extension of Sophie’s signature style. “I wanted a place for the kids to have fun and be safe but also for the aesthetic to tie into the design of our main house,” she explains.
Unlike traditional cubby houses, you won’t find any doorways or timber boards here. Rather, ‘crazy pave’ flooring, rounded arches and gentle curves adorn this outdoor oasis making it the ultimate place to escape. “Having it all open allows airflow through and provides enough shade while we’re outside,” Sophie tells of the Mediterranean-inspired design.
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Boasting a kitchen, sundeck and a waterslide (yes, a waterslide) the kid’s cubby house isn’t your average child-friendly space. But as important as it was for the cubbies to echo the style of the main house, it was equally important for Sophie to build a space that allowed her kids to do what kids do best: let their imagination run wild.
“For the kids, the main thing they wanted was a servery window because they love playing shop and selling us little coffees. They love it. ” As for Sophie’s wish list? A built-in bar where she and Michael could enjoy a margarita (or two) at the end of a long day. “I wanted it to be a little bit more fun and playful because it was a small space and not something we were going to use every day”.
Inside the adults’ den, the bar was decorated with custom-made tiles Sophie designed herself in collaboration with boutique Queensland tiler, Three Balls Red (don’t worry, they’ll be available for purchase soon). The soft pops of colour punctuate the all-white backdrop, infusing warmth into the space without going overboard. “It doesn’t have to be crazily coloured or look too hectic,” she explains. “Especially for the adult cubby, I kept it simple. There’s nothing too crazy about it”.
Although the build was a team effort, it was Sophie’s husband who took the reins when it came to bringing her vision to life. Every detail of the grand design, from the slide for the kid’s cubby (which is a complete hit with Hendrix and Peppa, by the way) right down to the tiles was executed by Michael himself, albeit with a little help from a few YouTube tutorials along the way. And while the end result is pure bliss, the construction process wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“Laying the concrete was definitely a massive undertaking. Because Michael did it all by himself it was a mad rush to get it levelled out, so it was a bit more organic and not as perfect.” Despite some pauses in the construction timeline thanks to the weather, Michael was adamant in seeing the project through to the very end – and if the final product is anything to go by, we’d say his hard work was well worth it.
Talk about a DIY dream come true!