This Home For Sale in the Australian Bush Has Magical Tree House Vibes

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By Michele Koh Morollo
A three-pavilion home in a national park north of Sydney sits in an estuary and is accessible only by boat.

The secluded Australian retreat sits within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park about an hour north of Sydney, Australia. Surrounded by she-oak and ironbark trees, this atmospheric abode has echoes of The Swiss Family Robinson tree house.

This expansive raised deck, which is accessible from the ground level via a short flight of steps, functions as the main living area and heart of the house. 

This expansive raised deck, which is accessible from the ground level via a short flight of steps, functions as the main living area and heart of the house. 

Designed by renowned Australian architect Richard Leplastrier in collaboration with architects Karen Lambert and Ian Martin, the 1,044-square-foot Osborne House fully embraces its bushland setting, and is now available through Modern House Estate Agents with the price provided upon request.

Set against a timber wall, a Japanese bath allows the homeowner to enjoy a leisurely soak while meditating on nature.

Set against a timber wall, a Japanese bath allows the homeowner to enjoy a leisurely soak while meditating on nature.

Long decking boards extend out into Pittwater, the valley estuary that holds Osborne House.

Long decking boards extend out into Pittwater, the valley estuary that holds Osborne House.

Composed of three pavilions and a living space, the residence was conceived in 1994, when its artist owner approached her friend Richard Leplastrier to redesign her property. This, at the time, comprised an early 20th-century stilt shack with a bedroom, and a ground-level cabin located about 33 feet away from the shack. 

The door mechanism was designed in reverse, opening outwards rather than inwards, to serve as a sheltering visor against the elements.

The door mechanism was designed in reverse, opening outwards rather than inwards, to serve as a sheltering visor against the elements.

Architects Leplastrier, Lambert, and Martin designed an enormous deck to unify the two structures, then built a kitchen at the south-facing side of the deck at the back of the property. 

The storage unit in the revised cabin floats above floor level.

The storage unit in the revised cabin floats above floor level.

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In the light-filled living area, bookcases and two built-in desks help create a workspace.

In the light-filled living area, bookcases and two built-in desks help create a workspace.

"Suddenly", says Leplastrier, "the whole place worked; it’s curious—it’s like having a piece of music that’s off the mark, with two instruments that don’t go together. By putting a third one in, it suddenly turns into a wonderful piece."

Within, light and fresh air stream through large portholes that are operable via a pulley system. 

Within, light and fresh air stream through large portholes that are operable via a pulley system. 

Like the doors and portholes on a boat, the openings can be tightly shut when needed for storm and wind protection.

Like the doors and portholes on a boat, the openings can be tightly shut when needed for storm and wind protection.

The original doors and windows of the cabin structure were left intact. The architects added built-in storage to the outside, lined the interior in plantation hoop pine ply, and installed a wood-burning stove and storage unit along one wall. 

The work areas of the kitchen consist of a three-burner cooktop—which sits on a custom-designed trolley—and floating cabinets that incorporate sinks, an underbench oven, and plenty of storage. 

The work areas of the kitchen consist of a three-burner cooktop—which sits on a custom-designed trolley—and floating cabinets that incorporate sinks, an underbench oven, and plenty of storage. 

Behind the kitchen pavilion is an open area with a polycarbonate roof.

Behind the kitchen pavilion is an open area with a polycarbonate roof.

In the kitchen pavilion, a wall made of Sydney Blue Gum and Brush Box recycled from 19th-century Sydney warehouses is fitted with a tilting, translucent, corrugated polycarbonate door that opens out to the deck. 

The windows were replaced with corrugated, translucent polycarbonate panels.

The windows were replaced with corrugated, translucent polycarbonate panels.

While the deck was designed to connect with the bushland, the kitchen is a more hidden space, with the portholes framing views of the national park and wildlife—which include wallabies, goannas and lyre birds—from close quarters. 

This Home For Sale in the Australian Bush Has Magical Tree House Vibes - Photo 12 of 16 -
A second bedroom was created with netting surrounding the bed, rug, and built-in storage. 

A second bedroom was created with netting surrounding the bed, rug, and built-in storage. 

"When you open up something that’s not glass and are just left with a hole in the wall, it’s the most acute connection to outside you’ll ever get," says Leplastrier, who prefers not to use glass in his buildings. 

Behind the former stilt hut structure, an additional toilet sits on a section of the deck that looks out into the hillside.

Behind the former stilt hut structure, an additional toilet sits on a section of the deck that looks out into the hillside.

Nautical design inspires the construction of the kitchen, where doorways are elliptical with simple brass handles. 

Nautical design inspires the construction of the kitchen, where doorways are elliptical with simple brass handles. 

Like many other buildings by Leplastrier, Lambert, and Martin, this house was dismantled, then rebuilt by Jeffrey Broadfield.  

Located within the open area are a laundry and storage area, and a toilet with portholes that present views of the bush cliffs above. 

Located within the open area are a laundry and storage area, and a toilet with portholes that present views of the bush cliffs above. 

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