Prioritising wellness and moving out of Brisbane delivered a beautiful eco-friendly home in the bush and a more relaxed lifestyle to boot.
For much of the year, Lee and Lee-Anne Stevens have all the doors andwindowsoftheirMoretonBayhinterlandhomeopen,making the most of its connection to the surrounding bush. Living here in the valley is pure bliss, says Lee-Anne, and a far cry from their previous pressure-cooker lifestyle in Brisbane. In 2014, Lee-Anne was suffering poor health, which she attributed to her high-stress job and coming into contact with toxic materials while renovating a number of old properties over the years. In order to live a ‘cleaner’ lifestyle and hopefully restore Lee-Anne’s health, the couple decided to make a tree-change in 2016, securing a vacant 2.4ha block just 20km north-west of the city.
The Stevens briefed architect Shaun Lockyer to design a “modern farmhouse” that prioritised healthy spaces and natural materials. “Lee and Lee-Anne have had an interest in all things ‘green’ for a long time,” says Shaun. “They wanted to build a sustainable family home, but it had to be practical in terms of incorporating the eco elements. They wanted to be sensible and get value from their investment.”
With a floor area of 189m2, the three-bedroom house is quite modest by today’s standards. But the spaces feel open and generous, thanks to the elevated ceilings and connections to the outdoors on two sides. The floor plan is arranged around a grassed courtyard: garage, entry and home office at one end; main living areas and bedrooms in the long part; and alfresco entertaining zone – including a covered outdoor room
and chemical-free pool – opposite. “The outdoor room is one of our favourite spaces,” says Lee-Anne. “Perched on the built-in day bed, taking in the house and the landscape as one, you really appreciate the greatness of Shaun’s design.”
LeeandLee-Anneareseasonedrenovators(theyhaverenovated, built or project-managed 150 properties for their consultancy business, Healthy Abode), so overseeing the interiors themselves was a natural step. In line with their clean-living ethos, they specified low- or non-toxic finishes and furnishings throughout.
The home feels especially welcoming, thanks to the use of rustic materials – solid timber trusses, spotted-gum floors and recycled bricks internally; and ironbark weatherboards and textural tyrolean render outside. Inside, the materials palette is deliberately restrained so the green views can take centrestage. “Waking up to greenery every morning is a feast for the eyes and helps reduce stress; it also improves your health longevity, sleep and immune function,” says Lee-Anne.
Another bonus for the Stevens is that they’re entirely selfsufficient in terms of electricity, water storage and waste management. Their power is generated by a 10kW solar system, with its inverter located in a shed well away from the house to minimise the impact of electromagnetic fields. Water from their four rainwater tanks is delivered to the home via BPA-free pipes, and waste is naturally processed with a BioCycle aerobic wastewater treatment system.
The family – now including five-year-old Poppy and baby Violet – also maintain an organic vegetable garden and keep bees for honey. “Poppy spends hours at the fence line patting and feeding our neighbours’ horses or generally exploring, climbing trees and getting dirty. It’s wonderful,” says Lee-Anne. As dusk falls, they put the chooks to bed, then take an “adventure walk” around the property, gathering bits and pieces for Poppy’s treasure collection. Later, Lee-Anne will sit in the hanging chair on the deck and read to Poppy or rock Violet to sleep.
While Lee and Lee-Anne began this journey to improve Lee-Anne’s health, the move has benefited the whole family. “We can’t imagine living any other way now,” she says.
Shaun Lockyer Architects, Newstead, Queensland; (07) 3257 7288 or lockyerarchitects.com.au. Healthy Abode, Brisbane, Queensland; 0433 501 345 or healthyabode.com.au.
MAIN BEDROOM “We installed retractable fly screens so we can open up the whole house and let fresh air in but keep the bugs out,” says Lee-Anne. Bed and side table, d-Bodhi. Bed linen, Elkie & Ark. Jute mandala wall art, The Dharma Door. Outside, the gardens are by Dan Young Landscape Architect and Lush Landscape Solutions. ENSUITE below left and opposite “Shaun thought about every detail, right down to where you hang your towel when you shower,” says Lee-Anne. Marble benchtop. Arcisan ‘Axus’ tapware, Harvey Norman. Bath, Apaiser. Towels, Loom Towels. Stool, The Purc-Shop. ‘Black Petal on White Background’ encaustic floor tiles, Teranova. Smart buy: ‘Abyss’ slate wall tiles, from $94/m², Eco Outdoor. GUESTROOM There are plants in every room to help ‘clean’ the air. Bench, JD Lee Furniture. Peg rail, Imprint House. Baskets, The Leisa Tree. For Where to Buy, see page 187.