Walkerville Retreat, Victoria

Located in the small coastal village of Walkerville, 2.5 hours southeast of Melbourne, architect Imogen Puller has designed a simple 30sqm/323sqft beach shack with adaptable spaces, multifunctional furniture, and ample storage.

This home is used as a creative space and mental health retreat for artists. 

Taking inspiration from a simple beachside shack, the brief was to create a space that provided only the essentials, somewhere to cook, rest and connect with the outdoors. 

A large mural adorns the side, an homage to the Artist Agency roots of the client. 

The home is located in a bush fire attack level area and all external materials are non-combustible, with a fibre cement cladding, and a rusted metal deck known as corten, a very durable material designed to rust in the coastal corrosive environment, creating a brilliant bold orange colour contrast to the blue of the ocean and the green of the landscape.

The entrance to the house is via a large sliding glass door that leads straight into the main living area. The interior is a minimal and calming space with a light lime-washed ply interior.

Built to passive house principles, the home has an air-tight envelope with high insulation levels in the floors, walls, and ceilings.

The main living area is tiled with light grey porcelain tiles and features a custom-designed banquette seat that folds down to become a double bed. The kitchen which sits just off the living room has just the essentials, a bar fridge, a benchtop oven, an induction cooktop, and plenty of storage for food.  

Used radiator pine with a lime wash has been used for cabinetry and shelving, with the bench top a white laminate. Handles are all made out of neoprene rubber.

Immediately on the other side of the kitchen, and also off the living room is a generous bathroom that can be entered from the outdoors when bodies are wet and sandy. The vanity is made from marine ply and a heat recovery ventilation system creates fresh filtered air to protect against mold and condensation. 

The staircase is made from locally sourced hardwood timber and leads to the master bedroom. Underneath the stairs, there is more storage and a day bed. The master bedroom enjoys very high ceilings thanks to the vaulted ceilings, and the south-facing windows open to encourage the ocean breeze to ventilate the whole home. 

There are no ceiling lights, there is ample daylight thanks to the generous windows during the day, and in the evening, a system of concealed LED wall lights provides task-specific ambiance.

By keeping the house small, the impact on the environment through material use and energy demands is minimised. By incorporating passive house principles, Pullar has created a really comfortable, small home that is energy efficient, cosy, and comfortable.

Images by Marnie Hawson