OK before anyone points out the slight disparity between today's home, nestled on the snowy slopes of Mt Buller, and the deliciously warm springtime weather we're enjoying in Melbourne right now, let it be known that we photographed this home just 11 days ago! I knew it would be a bit of a stretch squeezing in a wintery story in early September, but I wasn't quite prepared for it to be so delightfully summery in Melbourne this week! AH well. According to weather reports, the snow is still falling in Mt Buller as I type (and there are still 11 chairlifts open...!) so... please work with me, and imagine a snowy backdrop as you admire today's wonderful wintery home!
This incredible house right in the heart of Mt Buller's holiday village is home for at least four months of the year to the Percy family - that's Andrew and Tiffany and their five ski-mad kids, Maddie (15 yrs), Alex (13 yrs), Oscar (11 yrs), Gus (9yrs), and Cooper (5 yrs)! Until I met this lovely family and visited their beautiful home, I must admit I had no idea people actually lived up here for the whole ski season - but how lovely to set up a proper family home here, and really settle in for the winter!
The Percy family live at the snow from June through to September each year. 'Living on Mt Buller during the Winter months offers our family the opportunity to do what we love best – skiing and snowboarding' says Tiffany. 'Living in an alpine environment allows the kids to spend a fair amount of time in nature - very important for 4 active boys!' Other added bonuses include never having to hop in the car after school to run them to a gazillion 'after school' activities! 'The snow community is lovely and there's always something social on offer if you're looking for it' adds Tiffany. 'It also keeps us close to our kids... although some days are closer than others!'.
Tiffany and Andrew originally purchased their four bedroom alpine lodge five years ago, having previously spent their winters in a tiny apartment just around the corner, which they quickly outgrew. They enlisted Melbourne design firm Hecker Guthrie to give the home an extensive interior makeover, working within the existing floorplan, set over 3 levels.
There's something so romantic about designing an alpine home - what a dream project for the HG team! A classic palette of crisp whites and greys, timber panelling and cosy woollen textures was decided upon. Interior walls and original dark timber panelling was painted white to create a fresh look throughout, complimenting the snowy elements outside. Layers of alpine inspired textiles (wools, plaids and leathers) were brought into the space to add warmth and texture. 'Although with the clients amazing eye, there were plenty of fun things to work with!' says Simone from the Hecker Guthrie team, such as that amazing battered leather armchair, and the miniature gondola chair lift suspended from the ceiling!
Accommodating a family of seven in what is actually quite a modest living / dining area on the top floor required some clever spatial planning from the HG team. A custom bench seat was designed and built around a Jardan ‘Flynn’ table in the dining area, to accommodate the masses after a long day on the slopes. An in-built window bench seat alongside the fireplace also provides much needed extra seating with not an inch to spare!
Aside from the design challenges of creating a functional, comfortable home for a busy family of seven, I was curious, too, about the logistics of this whole ‘living at the snow’ set up. Turns out, it’s not exactly a holiday! The Percy family take their snow sports very seriously, and with five energetic kids to wrangle, a tight schedule it maintained to keep everything running smoothly. The kids train with the Mount Buller Race Club in the mornings (8.30 - 12.00), pop home for a quick lunch, and then head off to school in the afternoons from 1.00pm until 4.45pm. ‘They check out from their Melbourne schools during the Winter, but follow the same curriculum while at their Mt Buller school, so that the transition back in Term 4 is relatively smooth’ explains Tiffany.
Aside from giving their kids the most ridiculously fun, active winter and plenty of time to let off steam, for Tiffany and Andrew, relocating to Mt Buller every winter is really about keeping family close. ‘Living here means exposing our family to a very unique way of living’ says Tiffany. ‘Winter becomes a precious time that you get with your kids, without the outside world banging on your door’. The close knit village community at Mt Buller also adds to the charm of this lifestyle. ‘We live in a generous and supportive community of like-minded people’ says Tiffany. ‘People from all around the globe with interesting stories and lifestyles makes for a colourful community!
Huge thanks to Tiffany and Andrew for sharing their beautiful home and story with us today. A unique lifestyle to aspire to! Thanks, too, to Simone and the team at Hecker Guthrie for facilitating this story. Eve and I were very lucky also to stay a night at the Altamont Lodge during this trip - so handy to stay right on the mountain so close to the action! Big thanks to Christian at the Altamont for having us!