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Above: Photography by Dianna Snape. Written by Jan Henderson.
Up in the hills tucked behind Anglesea village is a gem of a house that captures the seaside atmosphere of the Surf Coast’s relaxed lifestyle to perfection. The project, a new build, is the latest addition to the portfolio of Anglesea Houses 1-4 by Emma Mitchell of Emma Mitchell Architects and number five is all about the detail within and the views outside. Mitchell, who lives in the area with husband Kris Migios, who also works in the practice, has shown great understanding of her client and the location. Through her design Mitchell has created a home that is relaxed, individual and masterfully crafted in layout and execution. The brief was to design a home that embraced the sense of place, celebrated the outstanding views and was a reflection of the clients’ lifestyle, interests and pleasures.
At the outset it is clear that this is no ordinary home with a quirky postbox made from a surfboard (designed by Heather Peck from Switchfoot Surf Coaching, Ocean Grove) positioned on the edge of the property. The house itself nestles into the hill, with the driveway and a separate path both leading to the front entrance. The façade has been clad in panels of cement sheet painted iron bark brown with vertical radial timber batons – an interpretation of a style of exterior decoration common to the area. Slashes of colour within geometric lines have been incorporated into the panels and a sliver of a window provides a peek into the guest bedroom and landscape beyond.
The front door opens on to a deck of white cypress that stands proud of an above ground pool reminiscent of a large water tank. The spectacular view of the northern landscape is at its best here with undulating wooded hills and acres of sky above. Mitchell has provided a small seating area just outside the entrance to the house proper and one of the delightful details of this house is the abundance of areas to just sit. There are window seats positioned to enjoy the inside and the outdoors, a cushioned window seat in the master bedroom that covers a full-size bath and small areas with a single chair for individual contemplation.
Wherever possible, Mitchell has included sliding doors in her layout to allow the inside and outside to merge, however the layout of the house is straightforward – the long, narrow, north-facing building contains the kitchen and entertaining areas that are sandwiched between the bedroom wings at either end.
Throughout the interior there is a continuum of materiality, a variety of timbers, concrete and glass with accents of painted sections in yellow, ochre and soft green that both delineate and highlight. A burnished grey concrete slab floor (Holcim, colour Portland Night) has been laid on the split-level kitchen/meals and entertaining areas and this abuts blue stringybark timber floors in both bedroom wings. The use of the various timbers gives a depth and warmth to the interior and the handcrafted is celebrated. Wherever possible, the detailed work was carried out on-site; for example, the shelves, cabinet in the entertaining area and window seats. Ply has been used in the kitchen cabinetry and the pendant light above the island bench (Curly Wurly, Wood Duck light, designed by Kris Migios) and there is a custom-made, solid, white cypress benchtop on a freestanding lime green painted plinth.
This island bench adds gravitas to the space and is framed and accented by the black, porcelain panel splashback (Maximum, Aster Moon) behind the cooking area. LVL (laminated veneer timber) has been used in the rib-like load bearing beams that punctuate the white ceiling in the centre of the house, the grain and colour complementing the ply cabinet that sits between the dining and lounge areas.
Special furniture pieces such as the Eames chair and stool and Butterfly chairs (vintage, client’s own) in the lounge, Hal chairs (vintage, client’s own) in the meals area and original artworks from local artists add a rich diversity to the decoration of the interior. However, it is the vintage black surfboard (Miki Dora ‘Da Cat’ step deck by Greg Noll, 1966) that steals the scene. This oversized ‘art piece’ pays homage to a love of surfing and, displayed high on the western wall, dominates the lounge area. Objets within the house are many and varied, with a diverse collection of statuary, lights and ornaments collected from numerous overseas trips.
The bedroom wings are themselves places of sanctuary, each with views of the landscape or the sea. Front of house comprises two bedrooms, a bathroom, toilet and laundry while the back contains the master bedroom, walk-in robe and en suite. In the master bedroom the aforementioned window seat/bath is positioned beneath a substantial picture window that has been carefully positioned for privacy and the vantage of an ocean view. Behind the bedroom is a large walk-in robe, complete with Swan chair (vintage, client’s own) and the separate shower and toilet with custom-made concrete basin (Concrete Architecture).
In all Anglesea House 5 is a delight. The attention to detail, the craftsmanship and finish are all a credit to Mitchell and her team. The layout is masterful; however, it is the expert planning in which Mitchell has revealed and hidden the views through the windows that is the most impressive design feature. Windows are not floor length, as expected, but carefully designed to highlight particular aspects of a view and provide privacy from neighbours. The curation of the landscape outside the house ensures that every vista is special. This is a house with whimsy and humour, colour and attitude, but a house that is a home in which to live, breathe and play.