The beach house is something familiar to many Australians — a second home for weekend and longer-term visits.
Rachel Nolan of Kennedy Nolan Architects designed a weekender for her family called Merricks Beach House. It’s a second home, so it needed to be low-budget. It also needs to cope with large groups of family and friends visiting to spend time together. Rachel also wanted to be able to rent the home out to short-term holiday makers. So it needed to be resilient and low maintenance as well.
The result is an affordable, tough and versatile holiday home that rethinks the great Australian weekender.
Raw materials: The use of raw materials in their natural state helps to keep the home feeling beachy and laid-back.
The Coastal Retreat
Small beach villages dot the Australian coast. They're close enough to a major city to make a weekend trip realistic, but far enough away to feel like you're getting away from it all. Just one hour drive from Melbourne, Merricks Beach is an example of these popular beach towns. Merricks Beach is sleepy community on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula. It's a popular holiday spot for Melburnians looking to get away for the weekend.
The site Rachel and her family built on is two blocks from the beach, with no views and practically no slope. It's more of a suburban-type block than one we typically associate with the beach. But it has the benefit of being away from the bustle of the city combined with easy access to the beach.
Playing with scale: The house plays with scale. The timber overhang makes it seem like the house has a second story, but actually allows for varying ceiling heights internally.
In-between spaces: A number of 'in-between' spaces in the home, like this bunk area/play area create multi-funtional spaces. The bunk area is intentionally darker to make it cosy and great for sleeping.
Hardy materials and attention to details: The house will be available as a short-term rental for holiday-makers. It had to be hardy and low-maintenance. Painted recycled bricks were the perfect choice. They feel textural and warm, will never get damaged, and can easily be repainted if they become marked or dirty. Attention to details make this home infinitely adaptable. This large step becomes a seat when the house is filled with friends and family.
A Place to Relax, Not to Work
When you're away for the weekend, the last thing you want to do is maintenance work on your holiday home. Rachel designed the home to be low maintenance and resilient to the knocks of the holiday-rental market. Merricks Beach House is built from recycled bricks, painted white. The exception is two large circles that reveal the beautiful coloring of the bricks. Exposed concrete floors in the living areas is easy to maintain. The floor absorbs the warmth of the sun to naturally heat the home at night. Locally sourced timber details have been left-to-weather. They will gray with age and blend in to the coastal surrounds. The house is hard-wearing and low maintenance -- the perfect retreat for laid-back weekends.
Clever Ways to Keep the Costs Down
Rachel uses a couple of clever strategies to keep the costs of the project down, while still achieving a unique and pleasant home:
- Spaces serve more than one purpose. This kept the overall size of the house down without sacrificing functionality. For example, the bunk room can act as a bedroom. Or it can be a second living space for the kids when the house is filled with friends and family.
- Recycled and local materials such as the bricks and the locally sourced timbers were picked up for an affordable price. They also add an element of history and meaning to the project -- connecting it to its site.
- Materials left in their natural state. The concrete floors, timber left-to-weather, and (with the exception of a coat of paint) the brick walls minimizes the amount of work on the project. It reduces materials and finishes to keep the costs down.
Weekenders Need Different Types of Space from a Regular Home
A weekender has different needs to a regular house -- it requires more flexible space. Generally, it's occupied all day. Instead of rushing to prepare a post-work meal for the family, the weekender allows you to spend all day cooking a feast. Rachel paid special attention to the kitchen for this reason, creating extra deep bench tops and a connected area for barbecuing.
The Merricks Beach House is designed for entertaining and spending time with friends. A sunken lounge area allows for additional informal seating during times when many friends and family are visiting. The bunk room is a break-out space for the kids.
Courtyard House: The house surrounds a courtyard. It becomes an extension of the living area once large sliding doors are opened. A circle exposing the home's use of recycled bricks becomes and art-piece.
A Courtyard With A Difference.
The house wraps around a courtyard. This lets the north light into the living areas and provides a private and quiet place to relax. The courtyard can also become an extension of the house. Once all the sliding doors are opened, activity can spill outside.
Rachel designed the house so that it could expand and contract based on the weather -- an important consideration given Mornington Peninsula's harsh climate. In winter a fireplace in the living area and exposed concrete floors moderate the temperature. The family can gather around the fire and enjoy it's warming ambiance. In summer, the whole corner of the house dissolves when the doors are opened, making the deck a true extension of the living area.
A Beach House for Living
Merricks Beach House has redefined the weekender. Special attention was paid to how spaces are actually used on holidays. Rather than build a regular house, Rachel has managed to create a house that is adaptable to the various ways we relax. You could sneak a nap on the warm concrete floor on a quiet winter's day. Or open the house to a group of family and friends for a weekend party. The home is equally suited to either scenario. These considerations make this beach house a beach home. A beach home for living your revitalizing weekend to the fullest...