A Stone Farmhouse Hides an Exquisite Japanese-Inspired Interior
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A Stone Farmhouse Hides an Exquisite Japanese-Inspired Interior

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By Lucy Wang
Bespoke joinery, elegant minimalism, and space-saving design imbue a contemporary country retreat with Japanese sensibilities.

In the historic town of Beechworth, found in the Australian state of Victoria, Doherty Design Studio masterfully subverts expectations in this two-story stone farmhouse. It's a holiday home that looks as if it has belonged to its rural surroundings for centuries, while cocooning a surprising jewel box of contemporary design inside.

Located in the client’s hometown of Beechworth, the holiday retreat sits on a hill with beautiful valley views of the township below.

Newly built from locally quarried, solid granite to match the rural vernacular, the country retreat was created for a Melbourne family who had lived many years in Japan and wanted their second home to reflect their love of Japanese culture.

"The exterior sits comfortably in its rural landscape, while the interior floor plan and joinery references the owners respect for the Japanese philosophy of simple, efficient living and clever use of small, well-ordered spaces," explain the designers, who collaborated with local building designer EDM Group.

Although strikingly different from its traditional farmhouse exterior, the interiors reference the outer appearance with an exposed solid granite wall in the living room and exposed roof trusses with black plated junctions that recall the artisanal joinery and construction techniques found in traditional Japanese homes.

"The resulting look and feel provides a relaxed environment that works to engage the senses. Overall, the refined-meets-rustic aesthetic meets the brief to provide the family with the thoroughly modern, light-filled retreat they sought from their country escape."

The living area is furnished with a Moroso Smock armchair by Patricia Urquiola from Hub Furniture, a Grazia & Co Ivy Coffee Table, and a Sky Modular Sofa from Jardan.

Although the clients had originally envisioned a much larger home as typical of Australian country retreats, the family’s desire for a feeling of intimacy inspired a more modestly scaled design of a little less than 2,000 square feet.

Inspired by intimate dinners with friends in Japan, the curved dining nook mimics the Japanese ‘chabudai’ tables that seat people close together.

The dining nook features a custom built-in banquette and a marble-topped pedestal table partially wrapped in micro mosaic tiles from Classic Tiles. The purple Kelly Stools are from Jardan.

The minimalist interior exudes warmth thanks to a carefully curated collection of textures and colors that tap into the clients’ memories of Japan.

"A palette of grey, navy, white, and mustard pays homage to Japan," note the designers. "Blue and grey contrast with the natural materials, while mustard connects to the yellow tones in the granite. 

The luxury kitchen was built with integrated appliances for a streamlined appearance. The countertops and custom shelving are provided by Colour Concrete Systems.

The variation in the custom blue-tiled backsplash references the Japanese wabi-sabi philosophy that embraces imperfection and transience.

"The repetition of colors and surfaces define the different zones while providing continuity. Timber paneling, bespoke joinery, concrete bench tops, terrazzo floors, hand-glazed tiles, glass mosaics, and bronze fixtures come together in quiet harmony."

The freestanding bath and shower are located in a "wet room" separate from the toilet, and are fitted with the same tiles found in the kitchen and dining area.

"The wash nook in the hallway references the Japanese bathing tradition of having a bath and shower separate to the washbasin and toilet," explain the designers. The separation of spaces is also crucial in this home, which has three bedrooms.

Large windows and skylights flood the interior with natural light to highlight the home’s many details and finishes, while simultaneously creating a connection to the outdoors and a greater sense of spaciousness. Informed by passive solar principles, the glazed openings help maximize solar efficiency and wind flow to reduce the home’s energy footprint. 

Note the end of the kitchen island that’s covered in white micro mosaic tiles to match the dining space opposite.

The vertical timber paneling that encloses the dining nook is painted in Dulux Domino.

"Our approach was to create an interior that is restrained and pared back, yet layered. Custom joinery throughout is crucial; it ensures organization, functionality and a place for everything."

Next to the open kitchen shelving is a textured amber glass panel from Axess Glass that adds a pop of brightness to the rear wall. The glass panel is part of a sliding door that leads to the bedrooms and bathroom.

The view from the mezzanine bedroom to the double-height living area with poured terrazzo floors.

Beechworth Residence floor plan

Beechworth Residence mezzanine floor plan

Related Reading: 

Light Floods This Dazzling Renovated Victorian in Australia

An Old Post Office Becomes an Idyllic Beach Retreat in Victoria


Project Credits:

Architect of Record: EDM Group 

Builder/ General Contractor: D&A Leary Building Contracts

Interior Design: Doherty Design Studio / @dohertydesignstudio

Cabinetry Design/ Installation: Borleis Kitchens

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