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River house

Overlooking rolling hills and a winding river, the setting for this concrete and sandstone house in rural Victoria was pretty spectacular. The architectural shell had been designed by Pickering Design when we came on board and help was needed with the interiors to connect with the surroundings and the existing sandstone stables. Our clients had a very clear idea of what they wanted – a farmhouse that was practical and easy but they also wanted it to have a sophisticated yet industrial character with quality detailing throughout. There had to be a view from every room (including the laundry!) and a strong connection to the surrounding farm, the animals and the river.

From a layout point of view, practicality was achieved by having a separate kids and guests zone so that the main wing comprising the open plan kitchen/living/dining area (with adjoining study tucked behind 3/4 wall) as well as the master bedroom, ensuite, laundry and powder room, can become much smaller and more contained when the kids are away. The main house is connected to the old stables through a floor-to-ceiling glazed walkway and the mud room next to the entry allows the farm to be left behind at the front door. The well-equipped kitchen with a generous pantry and appliance storage tucked behind allows cooking for the masses with a place for everything including scraps for the chickens and dogs and ample storage for wine. The open connection between pantry and kitchen allows for whoever is in the pantry not to feel closed off from the main entertaining action, creating a more relaxed and inclusive feel and adding to the feeling of space. 


The raw industrial character was achieved by keeping the finishes palette solid and minimalist with concrete tilt panels for the walls and wide timber boards on the floors to add warmth. Everything was detailed to feel solid and simple with full height internal timber doors complementing the walls and accentuating the views with plasterboard limited to the ceilings. Custom brass and copper tapware with exposed pipes and waste traps (thanks to the plumber's know-how) further enhance the industrial beauty, set against the concrete walls. The industrial palette is kept fresh with large openings, the warmth of the timber combined with the white joinery to the kitchen, the latter anchored in the industrial context with solid granite benches framed by concrete blades. The palette acts as the perfect backdrop for our client's incredible art collection, and every window frames a different view, from the crowns of Eucalypt trees, the river, rolling hills, and the established deciduous trees that surrounded an earlier house to the east. The external palette mirrors what's happening inside with the exposed concrete walls together with timber panelled cladding the eaves and the bridge to the kids wing. A wall of sandstone (sourced from the surrounding area) forms the South Eastern wall of the main house, tying in and paying homage to the existing stables. The sandstone wall then wraps its way around to create a sheltered morning courtyard facing the kids wing to the East, in turn balancing and blending the use of external materials. The remnants of an original fireplace then form another outdoor entertaining area to the North, complete with a working fire and rotisserie – positioned to be in view from most rooms of the new home. There are so many different aspects to be enjoyed in this wonderful house, which is both practical and functional but also full of raw beauty inside and out.


Photography by Chris McConville

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