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A Vic­to­rian fam­ily has cre­ated the per­fect an­ti­dote to city life – a sus­tain­able haven where the land meets the sea.

Australian House & Garden - - HOUSES - STORY John McDon­ald | STYLING Heather Nette King PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Armelle Habib

Busy Mel­bur­ni­ans Si­mone and David Kelly craved a place to es­cape to reg­u­larly. David runs a com­mer­cial law firm and Si­mone was a lawyer for 15 years un­til she took a break that turned out to be on­go­ing. She wanted to spend more time with her two stepchil­dren – Alexi, now 14, and Mariella, 11 – and “con­cen­trate on other things”. Si­mone was look­ing for bal­ance. “Fam­ily life is in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult with two full-time lawyers in the house,” she says.

They pur­chased the per­fect prop­erty in Fe­bru­ary 2016, a 1.2ha plot near Fish Creek, just north of Wil­sons Promon­tory, the south­ern­most point of the Aus­tralian main­land. Two thirds of the land was old-growth bush; the re­main­ing third cleared ex­cept for a large metal shed with a shower and toi­let. It was in the shed that they lived when they came down from Mel­bourne on week­ends.“Along­with­spi­der­san­drat­san­dother­creep­y­crawlies,” says David. “Plus it was freez­ing in win­ter.”

From the out­set, the cou­ple’s aim was to have mo­du­lar-pod de­sign firm Archi­blox cre­ate a chic, com­fort­able dwelling for their week­end and hol­i­day es­capes. Si­mone ad­mired the com­pany’s work and David knew the di­rec­tor, Bill McCorkell,

“so there was al­ready a level of trust”, he says. The con­tract was signed in May 2017 and the de­sign worked out in close con­sul­ta­tion with Si­mone and David.

The home had to be built ac­cord­ing to BAL29 spec­i­fi­ca­tions, the strin­gent build­ing reg­u­la­tions for new homes in bush­fire­prone ar­eas, in­tro­duced af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing Black Sat­ur­day bush­fires that rav­aged Vic­to­ria in 2009. All the ex­ter­nal walls need­ed­to­beanon-com­bustible­ma­te­rial,so­cor­ru­gat­edColor­bond was cho­sen for the cladding. Sil­ver­top ash – one of only seven hard­wood species deemed suit­able for homes in bush­fire-prone ar­eas – was picked out for the deck­ing and eaves. Mean­while, black­butt, an­other fire-re­tar­dant tim­ber, was or­dered for the in­ter­nal floor­ing through­out.

Work be­gan on­site on Oc­to­ber 2017, when the two com­pleted res­i­den­tial pods were de­liv­ered. It took a full day to un­load the pods – in dis­mal weather – and an­other month to join them to­gether. That in­volved con­nect­ing the stump­ing and in­stalling the plumb­ing, elec­tri­cals, gut­ters, down­pipes, fly­screens and so­lar pan­els, as well as rec­ti­fy­ing some mi­nor dam­age that had oc­curred dur­ing trans­porta­tion.

One mo­d­ule is for liv­ing, the other for sleep­ing. The liv­ing mod­ule­hasa­size­abledeckand­fea­tures­large-for­matwin­dowsand glass doors that draw in nat­u­ral light, pro­vide cross-ven­ti­la­tion and frame the views of the pad­docks and Cor­ner In­let. Raked ceil­ings add ar­chi­tec­tural flair. The sleep­ing mo­d­ule con­tains three bed­rooms (one kept for guests), a laun­dry and bath­room. Off the laun­dry is an­other small deck that looks out to the for­est; its stone bath is the per­fect place to watch the sun set.

The bush-in­spired week­ender is quite a con­trast to Si­mone and David’s in­ner-city Mel­bourne home – a Fed­er­a­tion house with a largely neu­tral colour scheme. “This home is all about co­coon­ing and rich­ness,” says Si­mone, who chose an earthy green colour – al­most khaki – for the walls. “When David went to see the pods be­ing built he was a bit shocked! But it’s a re­ally com­fort­ing colour and re­lates to the land­scape.”

Sus­tain­abil­ity is at the core of the mo­du­lar-home move­ment, and in this case also ex­tends to the fur­nish­ings and decor. Si­mone set her­self the chal­lenge of sourc­ing as much as she could sec­ond­hand. “Al­most ev­ery­thing in the house is preloved – even the fridge,” she says. “I spent ages trawl­ing through op shops, Gumtree and eBay. The process was fun be­cause you have to be a lot more in­ven­tive and creative; I thor­oughly en­joyed it.”

Si­mone and David are also pas­sion­ate or­ganic gar­den­ers (see a re­view of Si­mone’s new book, Fam­ily Har­vest, on page 191), at their Mel­bourne home and at Fish Creek, where they grow cap­sicums, co­rian­der, basil, broc­col­ini, toma­toes, radishes, springo­nions,thyme,turnips,pump­kin,zuc­chiniand­wa­ter­melon. There are two wa­ter tanks and the rain­fall’s been good... Next up for Si­mone is mak­ing and bot­tling her own pas­sata. Archi­blox, Burn­ley, Vic­to­ria; 1300 773 122 or archi­

MAIN DECK Own­ers Si­mone and David and daugh­ter Mariella with their pugs, Molly (left) and Fu Manchu. In the dis­tance is Cor­ner In­let, near Wil­sons Promon­tory. Steel-framed eaves and awnings shield the home’s in­te­rior from harsh sum­mer sun. The deck and awning are sil­ver­top ash. Free­dom din­ing ta­ble and benches, bought through Gumtree. ‘Junto’ ter­ra­cotta carafe by Si­mon Le­gald for Nor­mann Copen­hagen and ‘In­fin­ity’ bowl in Ochre, both Lightly. LIV­ING The bush sur­round­ings have even in­spired the art­work. Free­dom leather sofa, bought sec­ond­hand. ‘Dane’ wool cush­ion in Sage and ‘Ry­der’ leather cush­ion in Tan, both Abode Liv­ing. Lo­cal hero: ‘Kan­ga­roo Close-Up’ pho­to­graphic print by Kara Rosen­lund, from $290 (un­framed). >

MAIN DECK/LAWN “The kitchen splash­back looks amaz­ing when you’re out­side at sun­rise and the light’s re­flect­ing off it,” says Si­mone. To the left of the deck are a num­ber of old car­rot-plant­ing boxes filled with pre­mium top­soil for grow­ing vegeta­bles. Na­tive grasses planted around the decks at­tract birdlife. A large mob of kan­ga­roos visit at dawn and again at dusk to eat the grass, and there is a wom­bat hap­pily in res­i­dence un­der the house. The ‘Zen’ steel fire pit (in the fore­ground) from Re­mark­able Out­door Liv­ing sees plenty of use. It rusted to the or­ange-red colour over time. REAR DECK Si­mone loves re­lax­ing in her beau­ti­ful stone bath, built into the deck. “It weighs about 300kg!” she says. De­signer buy: ‘Castello’ bath, $3462, Nat­u­ral Stone Bath Fac­tory. Milli ‘Inox’ out­door shower in ma­rine-grade stain­less steel, Reece. The deck’s pe­riph­ery is lined with fire-re­tar­dant James Hardie fi­bre-ce­ment cladding.

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