James Clarebrough and his wife Emily’s affinity for the Mornington Peninsula, with its coastal dunes and Moonah trees, goes way back to the summers of their youth. That nostalgia brought them back to the township of Sorrento two years ago, and they’ve been living on the same block ever since. More recently, they decided it was time to build something new.
The couple and their two teenage sons, Archie and Milo, sought a relaxed yet sophisticated dwelling that respected the coastal environs. "The house needed to be generous to entertain family and friends, but still allow for moments of relief and solitude," says Project 12 Architecture, the firm that worked with Clarebrough Constructions, James’s company, on the build.
Unlike the popular open-plan schemes that many homes follow today, the family opted for an L-shape with intimate rooms defined by brick walls and subtle steps. Living areas and bedrooms open into a backyard landscaped with native plants, which was designed by Emily.
The home’s northwest orientation maximizes natural light and shields the structure from prevailing weather. On the southeast end there’s a double garage and the kids’ bedrooms, and living rooms that face north overlooking the pool. The primary suite, which sits in the shade of a majestic Moonah tree, is positioned at the far end of the plan.
Durable building materials were selected to withstand the harsh coastal environment, and to meet the required bushfire ratings. The façade is clad with charred timber boards and battens that form a screen from the road. Behind it is recycled brick painted white and silvertop ash cladding that blends into the landscape. The brick is left exposed inside the home, where it’s complemented by millwork and polished concrete floors.
"One of the nicest comments Emily told us is that she never wants to leave," say the architects. In a way, she got her wish with six lockdowns over the course of the pandemic. Throughout, the home provided her and her family with a comfortable space to live and work.
During the lockdowns, James built the boys a skate ramp in the front yard, which continues to be a well-loved addition. Says Project 12, "The challenges of working and studying from home were counterbalanced by the fact that they all had spaces to call their own."
Structural Engineer: Fitzgerald and Associates
Landscape Design: Emily Barret
Interior Design: Project 12 Architecture
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