Well, this should really be called Van and Shepherd’s Rustic Cubby Dream House, and we just loved collaborating with Sophie and Dale on their epic backyard play space in Geelong, Victoria. If you don’t already follow Sophie Vine on Instagram, stop what you are doing (ie, stop reading this for just a moment) and go ahead and do so. She’s an endless source of styling inspiration and mama wisdom, and just a damn lovely person to boot. Pro tip: binge scroll back through her feed when you’ve got at LEAST an hour to spare …

You may know Dale and Sophie from their run on The Block in 2012 – but things have changed for the then-newlyweds in a few short years! Two delightful additions to the family, a successful landscaping business, the launch of online store Vines of the Wild, as well as engaging daily with their huge Instagram community (Dale’s no slouch either). Excusez mon français, but … bloody inspiring!

When it came to creating their cubby space, Sophie and Kellie spent months exchanging emails, phone calls, and inspiration images to get a clear idea of the look and aesthetic the Vines wanted. Sophie’s Instagram feed and posts helped a lot in this vision, and it’s clear she and Dale value imaginative play in their kid’s world. After some site measurements were traded, we decided upon installing the full decking to bring the mud kitchen, cubby, and table area together, and a trip to our favourite antiques bazaar (shhh, secret!) yielded the hammer and mallet for above the window, and the fab vertical garden (which is actually a piece of rubber from an old industrial conveyor belt, with metal buckets still intact).

While our clients often use the awning as a chance to add colour, Sophie chose a beautiful olive linen from our supplier Fab Outdoor Fabrics, which suits them just perfectly.

Just before Christmas last year, our Jono made the trip to Geelong and installed their custom cubby. Naturally, Sophie set about styling the space with her fantastic mix of eco-friendly wooden toys, impressive basket collection, and customised op shop finds (like THAT cash register!). When the time came to share some images with her Insta-community, the response was overwhelming, and her kind words were just the thing to kick off our post-Christmas break with a smile!

In the six months since we visited, Sophie and Dale have made a few additions and ‘renovations’ to our original install – adding the black baskets, a ‘real’ window above the door, and some cool rustic fencing. She’s also shared numerous images of her boys enjoying the outdoor space. We have a full gallery below, all images have been supplied by Sophie (thanks Sophie!!). For details on toys, check Sophie’s Instagram feed, she often helpfully shares where to find many of the items.

Image Credit: all photos by Sophie Vine