Photos by Jacqueline Bosscher
Strawbale House, Alpine Victoria
We will be renovating this amazing house & its outbuildings in Taungurung country, Alpine Victoria, over a few stages. The house has a steel frame and skillion roof structure, with straw bale walls that are finished in a natural lime plaster (inside + out), giving it a hand-sculpted form. A terracotta Colorbond roof has been manipulated to meet the undulating plaster walls. Internally, ceiling linings are mainly Ash timber battens, flooring is a mix of bamboo boards and terracotta tiles, double-glazed window/door frames are made of reclaimed timber from the old Port Adelaide wool stores. A generous hardwood deck snakes around the perimeter of the house.
The first stage involves some improvements to make the house & outbuilding (a former working bakery!) more liveable, whilst a second stage will involve replanning the layout of the centre of the house where the kitchen, walk-in-pantry, laundry, boot room, and main bathroom will be rearranged and fully refitted. A new entry zone will be created, and new master ensuite, new guest bathroom and sauna area designed and fitted.
A new bathroom in the bakery outbuilding has recently been completed, meaning the space can now accommodate guests. Featuring free-standing Acqua basins, Silo mirror & Tutto ceramic shelf from the wonderful Studio Bagno, the space cannot yet be tiled, but it has commercial grade linoleum flooring that is fully waterproofed. A large shower area has been created using gloss acrylic panel and large shower tray, dramatically framed by fabulous canvas shower curtains by Quiet Town making the bathing experience something akin to entering a circus tent! Why not?
Inside the main house, unfinished ceilings and walls have been lined and painted with no-VOC bio paint. The master ensuite has new Apaiser basins installed which are made from recycled content. New super efficient tapware and electrical appliances have been installed that will not drain this off-grid property of power/water. A new solar array and heating/hot water system using efficient heat pump and reverse cycle units is in the process of installation to keep the house all-electric whilst bringing comfort during the cold months of winter. New feature lighting has given the spaces better light and a quick 'facelift'.
This and future stages also include the wonderful task of sourcing furnishings for the entire house. Vintage Scandinavian designer sofas and dining table have been matched with vintage designer chairs and there are a scattering of second hand coffee tables, some custom-designed bench seats and new beds. Rugs and blankets throughout the house will bring much needed softness and warmth.
The second stage is in the planning and will be implemented in the second half of 2023. A third stage to turn an out-building into holiday accommodation is also in the pipes. Watch this space!
Sustainable elements & materials
• Strawbale construction with natural lime plaster render inside + out
• Fully insulated
• Double-glazed, recycled timber framed windows + doors
• Off-grid solar power system, heat pump for hot water
• LED lighting, paper pendant light fittings from Cult/Formakami/Hay
• Apaiser basins made from 90% crushed, reclaimed marble + local stone + resin
• Low flow water + super efficient electrical appliances, including a 6-star rated Hisense fridge with inverter technology
• Natural, no VOC bio paint
• Fair Trade 100% wool rugs from Armadillo + West Elm, Fair Trade 100% cotton rugs from IKEA
• Front door made from Douglas Fir with relief tree form in Corten steel by artist Craig Eury, raw brass door handle from Mother of Pearl & Sons
• Vintage + second hand furniture finds include: Borge Mogensen Scandinavian timber lounge, a pair of IKEA leather sofas, a Tulip dining table by Eero Saarinen, Kartell Philippe Starck + Bouroullec brothers chairs, French timber dining chairs, timber coffee tables, stools + outdoor setting
• 100% recycled wool blankets from Koskela/The Tartan Blanket Co. + St Albans 100% mohair blankets