An Architect’s Family Home Immersed In Coastal Bushland

The family home of architect Jay Earles, director of Planned Living Architects, reflects its position in McCrae with Arthurs Seat State Park on one side, and water views on the other.

Jay and his wife Stine Haug purchased the empty site in 2013. After living in a 24-square-metre apartment in Oslo, Norway (where Stine is originally from) then a 1920s fisherman’s shack full of gaps and resident possums in the roof, they were ready to build a practical and beautiful home of their own.

During the design process, Jay and Stine learned they were expecting their first child, which inspired the planning of their home. ‘We basically hit the reset button and drew upon the family experiences of clients, family and friends to help inform a new direction,’ says Jay.

The steep site that slopes down from the street dictated the floor plan, which features the garage and entry on the upper level. With the primary view also on this level,  there was an obvious desire for the main living, dining, kitchen area to be located on the upper storey rear.

Downstairs is a more introverted retreat hosting additional bedrooms, a study and a second living room, designed to become more activated as Jay and Stine’s two sons Marius (8) and Merric (5) grow and gain more independence.

Aesthetically, the house is designed to sit comfortably within the natural landscape. Durable and stable blackbutt is the main material used indoors and out across the cladding, internal wall lining, decking, and engineered floors. ‘And lots of glass – always lots of glass!’ says Jay.

Fast growing, mostly native plants embrace the house, further immersing the property within its environment. ‘I love how much the greenery has engulfed the house since we finished building it six years ago and the way that it feels like the house belongs in its landscape and streetscape,’ says Jay.

Many headaches ensued to meet the home’s design objectives and budget and ensure optimum performance.

‘I can confidently say I spent more design hours on our own house than any other — not that it was always productive time!’ says Jay. ‘[There was] lots of going around in circles testing ideas, hunting for every efficiency there might have been available to us.

‘It was a real challenge to know what we like and all the options available, but not having the budget that many of our other projects might have and trying to prioritise where to best manage the value of the project was a real challenge.’

The new build is deliberately unshowy, representing a throwback to the humble timber shacks built on the Mornington Peninsula in decades past.

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