Modern island haven
MOVING from inner city Melbourne to build a house on a remote, rural Tasmanian island is challenging enough but throw in having to design the house for a lifestyle you have not yet experienced and things get very interesting.
In 2005, David and Bronwen Grutzner decided to make the big move from St Kilda to Flinders Island and retire.
Or at least that was the plan – architect David has been involved with more than 100 renovating and building projects on the island since moving into their home Sarah Blanche in late 2006.
When it came to designing their own house, there were many considerations which were all new even to David.
“My original idea was just to have this blank stone wall buried into the hillside and the house was behind it,” he explained.
“But Tuppy [ Bronwen] said, ‘ Hang on, if we’re going to build here, we don’t want anything that’s aggressively architectural in this community, it’s not going to work’. Which was a very good point, I hadn’t really thought about how we were going to integrate.”
Changing the concept, the result was a three- bedroom, timber- lined home overlooking Sarah Blanche Point.
“We had a choice to build for shelter, which is the traditional island way, or build for the view which is the modern baby boomer way,” Bronwen said.
“We decided that we would build for the view because if we didn’t, we might always think why did we come to Flinders Island if we’re not going to be enjoying the view.”
Building materials having to be shipped in and a damaging storm put the process back quite a bit and, while some compromises had to be made – without a crane to lift the large windows into place, the Grutzners decided to forego double glazing – both say they love their island home.
“We didn’t want to spend millions of dollars on this house, so all the joinery through the entire house – the kitchen cabinets, the pantry, wardrobes and all the laundry and bathroom cupboards – is Ikea,” Bronwen said.
“It was all bought in Melbourne in fl at packs and put in the container and shipped here. We made up all the cabinets and the builder installed them.”
Advanced for its time, the house produces its own energy and water is stored in several large tanks.
“Living in the city you take a lot for granted,” David said.
“You plug something in and it turns on or you turn on a tap and the water flows out. Here, we had to rethink all that. It was a joy for me because coming here you have to use all these different professional skills that aren’t often required.”
Almost all rooms enjoy the stunning water views and on the other side of the home a sunroom traps the warmth. Originally, this area was a deck. “In Victoria, we were always out on our deck but we just found that under the weather conditions here we weren’t using it,” Bronwen said.
“So we built it in and it’s been absolutely brilliant because it’s been like a heat trap.”