Australian Homes

Joost and Jennie Bakker and Family

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 2nd April 2014

Joost-frontdoor

The home shared by Joost Bakker and his family in Monbulk, about 45 mins East of Melbourne’s CBD.  Chair (on ceiling!) by Geoffrey Mance, artwork on right hand wall by Joost’s friend David Bromley (part of a large work originally painted for Joost’s pop-up ‘Greenhouse’ restaurant in Melbourne).  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-reverse

View from front door to sitting room . dining room beyond.  Vintage French Jielde lamp on the ceiling, Rug from Loom Rugs.  The floor and ceilings are clad in simple plywood – Joost uses soap to protect the boards and give them a bleached washed out look, without having to seal these surfaces using harsh chemicals.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-wideshot

Sitting room.  The floor and ceilings are clad in unfinished plywood – Joost uses soap to protect the boards and give them a washed out look, without having to seal the surfaces using harsh chemicals.  Vintage French Jielde lamp on the ceiling, Rug from Loom Rugs, cushions from Spacecraft Australia, Molly the German short haired pointer poses reluctantly for a photo!   Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-dining

Dining room detail.  Joost adores his old National Geographic collection – ‘I’ve been collecting them forever, I find them so inspiring.  I get so many ideas for Silo and other projects from these magazines’ he says.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-lounge

TV/ Sitting room.  Recycled wire lamp made by Joost, rug from Loom Rugs, cushions from Spacecraft Australia.   Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-dining3

Family dining room – heavy insulating drapes made by Joost using industrial felt.  Soaped plywood floors, rug from Loom Rugs.  House shaped sculpture on table by the late David Band. Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-exterior

Joost’s famous and often photographed plant wall!  Joost invented this vertical garden system many years ago – it can now be seen in many homes and restaurants across Melbourne, and is now sold under license through Schiavello.  Joost’s own version covers the entire exterior of his 600sq metre home / garage / studio, and contains over 11,000 leafy wild strawberry plants!  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-familyportrait

The Bakkers!  Joost’s wife Jennie, and kids (from left) Ruby (10 yrs), Charlie (8 years) and cheeky Remi (5 years).   Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

I have to be honest, I’m not sure where to even start with this incredible home and even more incredible Melbourne family.  It is truly one of the most unique and special homes we’ve ever featured, and goodness knows I have been waiting a long time to finally document and share it you.  Finally, today is the day!

You are looking at the spectacular home of Melbourne designer / floral artist / restauranteur / entrepreneur / ‘no waste’ advocate and visionary Joost Bakker, his wife and business partner Jennie, and their three gorgeous girls Ruby (10), Charlie (8) and Remi (5).  The Bakkers live in Monbulk, which is a sweet and very scenic spot, around 45 mins East of Melbourne, at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges.  Originally from Holland, Joost moved to Monbulk with his family at age 9, and he has lived in the area ever since (he even went to the same local primary school his kids now attend!).

Now, we’ve done a few stories on Joost’s various amazing projects over the years, and I feel very lucky these days to count him as a friend.  Joost truly is one in a million – he’s the kind of guy who just enters a room and lights up the space, igniting in everyone present a sense of urgent enthuasiam for whatever he happens to be campaigning for that day.  Joost has spoken at TEDx Sydney, he’s staged countless events and pop-up projects to encourage discussion about sustainable design practices and his ‘zero waste’ philosophy.  He is known for his vertical gardens, his inspired ‘Greenhouse by Joost’ restaurants in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, Silo – his waste free restaurant in Melbourne’s Hardware lane, and his endless creations and installations using ‘the stuff other people throw out’.

At the end of the day, despite his indefatigable boyish optimism, Joost is deadly serious about proving that buildings can be designed more efficiently, can be used to grow much of the food we eat, and can run waste-free – and he practices what he preaches.  His own home, built on 6 lush, productive acres in Monbulk, is perhaps the greatest example of these philosophies in practice.

Joost and Jennie bought this property in 2000 – it had previously been a cherry farm for over 40 years. Initially, they cleared the land, installed massive concrete water tanks in the ground, and planted over 200 trees, struck from cuttings – ‘Jennie’s father is a genius as striking cuttings’ says Joost.  In 2006 they were ready to build.

A connection between the indoors and outdoors was paramount to Joost’s design for his sprawling family home. The house is BIG – around 600 square metres – incorporating Joost’s large workshop, garage and the family home within one structure, and surrounded by incredible green lawns and plantings on all four sides, and a view to rolling hills as far as the eye can see. ‘I never understood the disconnect between homes and gardens in Australia’ says Joost. ‘In Holland, everyone lives in their gardens.  I wanted to build a home where people actually spend time in the gardens.  I always wanted a home where the garden feels like part of the house’

Joost says he wasn’t originally planning to manage the entire build himself, but due to his somewhat unconventional construction ideas, he says ‘no one would build it for us’.  And so, in typical form, he took on the project himself, hiring casual labourers and backpackers, plus a few skilled mates to realise his vision.  The house was completed in 8 months.

The Bakker home is fundamentally designed on the principle that everything used in its construction has to be completely recyclable.  Joost’s goal was to ensure that every steel beam, every sheet of plywood, every window frame, every single element of the structure could potentially be unscrewed, dismantled and used for something else in the future.  For this reason, Joost refrains from using glues, plaster, floor polishes or other finishes which render the base building materials unrecyclable.  His home is built on a 90% recycled concrete slab, using a a steel frame (Joost loves steel for its recyclable qualities), strawbails (Joost’s signature building material!), blockwork for thermal mass, and plywood.  All ply floors and ceilings are simply ‘soaped’, a Swedish idea which protects them and gives them a bleached, washed out look, without the need for harsh chemicals or polishes.

Outside, the building is instantly recognisable by Joost’s signature vertical garden of terracotta pots covering the entire facade.  This impressive structure houses over 11,000 wild strawberry plants (!!), grown from seeds supplied by Joost’s uncle in Europe.  And of course, a vast vegetable garden out back provides enough fruit, veg and herbs to feed far more than the 5 people who live here, as well as daily eggs from a cheerful gaggle of chooks (excess produce is distributed to friends, family and sometimes even makes its way into the Kitchen at Silo).

There’s SO MUCH to admire about this unique Melbourne home.  Of all the homes we’ve featured, this one perhaps more than any other really presents the most accurate portrait of its inhabitants.  There’s an integrity here that only comes from a genuine passion for doing things differently, for seeking better ways to design and live in the spaces we inhabit, and for always asking ‘why can’t we do it this way?’.

Joost is pretty pumped to be opening a ‘Silo by Joost’ restaurant in Brighton in the UK later this year – keep your eyes peeled for that special project!  A little closer to home, he has plans to stage an exhibition all about Silo’s uniquely sustainable hospitality business practices and zero waste philosophy at Spacecraft Australia in Gertrude st, Fitzroy in July and August. I’ll keep you posted!

Joost-dining2

Family dining room – heavy insulating drapes made by Joost using industrial felt.  Artwork on far wall and house shaped sculpture on table by Joost’s dear friend, the late David Band, rug from Loom Rugs.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-kitchen

A light filled galley kitchen links the living / dining zones with the kids playroom and bedrooms beyond.  Artwork on far wall by Joost’s friend David Bromley. Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-playroom

Kids’ playroom – love that battered leather couch!  Reclaimed wire pendant light made by Joost. Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-charlie's room

Detail from 8 year old Charlie’s bedroom.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-bedroomcod

Detail from master bedroom.  Chest of drawers by Mark Tuckey.  ‘Lovers’ print by Rachel Castle.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-bedroom

Detail from master bedroom.  Bed by Mark Tuckey.  Vintage Poster far right from Joost’s friend ‘Sam the Poster Man’ at Vintage Posters Only. Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-bathroom

Swoonworthy ensuite bathroom with views to the hills!  Plant column (right) by Joost.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-study

Study nook looking out to entrance driveway.  Large sculpture outside by Joost, small house-shaped sculpture on desk by Twiggargerie. Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joost-drive

Entrance driveway.  House is on the left, studio to the right.  Large spherical sculpture by Joost. Photo – Sean Fennessy, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 2nd April 2014

55 comments

  • michael Cooke 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing this home – it’s a beauty!

  • Jess 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing this wonder wall castle! So great and inspiring.

  • Richa 1 year ago

    Wow….what an amazing place!

  • harriet 1 year ago

    So great & special to see inside the Joost home! Such a refreshing space. And what a beautiful family!

  • Jane 1 year ago

    Brilliant in every way!
    Would love to find out more detail about soaping the floors.

  • Kelly 1 year ago

    Wow! That is all…

  • Lucy Mora 1 year ago

    Lovely!

  • Jodester 1 year ago

    Totally inspirational: design, sustainability, future thinking, paying it forward… shows how a innovation and thinking outside the box can inspire a generation.

  • Clara 1 year ago

    Melbourne is so lucky to have Joost thinking and working here at such a turning point in how we all think about design. Great story, brilliant and important house, thank you.

  • Clara 1 year ago

    Melbourne is so lucky to have Joost thinking and working here at such a turning point in how we all make and design. Great story, brilliant and important house, thank you Lucy.

  • Kate 1 year ago

    I’d love to see the vegie gardens too – they sound so lush!! Great house and very interesting design principles..

  • Diane 1 year ago

    Amazing home! Love the way he combined his Dutch roots in his design. Would love to know more about the soaped plywood floors and cladding.

  • Susan Harcourt 1 year ago

    What a fascinating, wild, original home and more importantly story. Thank you for such a refreshing home profile of the Joost’s. And a wonderful family portrait to top it off !

  • kate 1 year ago

    woohoo!! been hanging out to see the inside of this beauty and learn more about its construction. Unreal Joost & Jennie! thanks a million Lucy & team. Love wednesdays!

  • Susan Harcourt 1 year ago

    Fascinating , wild, original home and story. Thanks for such an amazing and refreshing home profile. A sensational family portrait to top it off !

  • elouise 1 year ago

    love this house! Its so good to see places in the eastern suburbs featured!

  • Engracia 1 year ago

    Gorgeous, in its philosophy & design. Love it.

  • Carolyn 1 year ago

    My husband and I will soon be embarking on a new build with a priority making it sustainable, stylish and homely. The Joosts have succeeded in doing this … thanks for the inspiration!

  • georgie 1 year ago

    love it love it love it – feels lived and loved in – more pics of the families in their homes pls

  • KF 1 year ago

    While it’s not my style, I can see the owners personalities in every detail, and that is what design is really about. It’s super cool though and funny. I would imagine Joost is quite the card, and judging from the youngest kid, she takes after her Papa.

  • Jacqueline 1 year ago

    Amazing, gorgeous home! Love it!

  • Victoria 1 year ago

    the most amazing, authentic and inspirational house you have ever featured. thank you!!!!

  • Pete 1 year ago

    Awesome fit out and some very nice pieces. A lovely family home to bring your kids up in

  • sarah 1 year ago

    Love all the aspects and the philosophy…thank you.

  • Richard 1 year ago

    Such a talented designer and such an inspiration…. beautiful family as well ;)

  • Josie Somerville 1 year ago

    wow! so inspiring!

  • Clare 1 year ago

    I drive past this house regularly and have always been curious about it! Just Aaaamazing!!!! So much personality in this home.

  • Natalie 1 year ago

    The view from the master bedroom……

  • Lizzie 1 year ago

    Hi Lucy
    What a wicked house – not really surprising given he’s one of Australia’s finest. Is it possible to find out what is the soap they use on the floor?

    Many thanks for yet another great and inspiring article.

  • Barbara 1 year ago

    The bathroom, kitchen,master bedroom, garden, the totally inspiring couple, gorgeous kids, its all too much!! Love it all. But wouldn’t putting soap on the floorboards make them really skiddy??

  • JAMES GORDON 1 year ago

    STUNNINGLY CHARMING … KIDS , HOUSE , STYLING , MUM AND DAD

  • Laura 1 year ago

    Hi Lucy – this house is incredible! Would you happen to know where that incredible coffee table in the TV/sitting room is from? It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for!

  • Janice 1 year ago

    Amazing. My kind of house

  • Honeysuckle 1 year ago

    refreshing to saythe least to see a house that doesnt rely on over priced furniture and fittings to look good.. lets see more of this type of funkiness on the DF?!

  • Ben Scott 1 year ago

    Amazing. Inspirational person is an understatement.
    Love the use of the Jielde lamps from the ceiling.

  • Helen Edwards 1 year ago

    three words – love love love

  • Amanda 1 year ago

    Wow wow wow

  • Ella 1 year ago

    Just when I thought there were no new ideas left in this world! Thank you for sharing this! So thrilled to see a house with soul, independent of trends and expressed with such a beautiful sense of honesty. Although unlike anything, there’s still something distinctly Australian about its identity. Love love love!

  • Kimmy 1 year ago

    The way forward for homes if we are to protect our environment against climate change and the increase in illnesses such as Cancer. You should be so proud, Joost, so inspirational . We need to sit up and take notice! You should be lecturing in all Tafes and schools and teaching our future generations the way forward. Respect x

  • Lauren 1 year ago

    Fantastic in every way. Some people are just so damn clever.

  • Nicole 1 year ago

    …and believe me they are as beautiful as their home!

  • Kathy 1 year ago

    Swoonworthy… I want to know where he got the vast amounts of felt for the curtains…

  • Linda 1 year ago

    Just wonderful. Another vote for more garden shots + and ideas for sourcing industrial felt? Thanks.

  • Emma 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing! So inspiring!
    And another hand up that would love some info about soaping timber…can’t seem to find much on the net?

  • Polly 1 year ago

    Wow, what an amazing family and home. Fabulous

  • michele 1 year ago

    truly truly inspiring home – built with so much integrity and truth. Its lovely to see that Joosts’ home reflects the design aesthetic and principles that he believes in. Its wholistic and personal approach to design – and its amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us Lucy x

  • Liesl 1 year ago

    please can we see more of his garden, want to explore his ideas of living in the garden more and how that plays out with design principles, so many questions, so many ideas…
    luv luv

  • Emily 1 year ago

    What an incredibly special home! Absolutely loved the whole story Lucy – thanks for bringing it to us.

  • Margie 1 year ago

    What an amazing plant wall! I agree with some other posters, I’d love to see more of the garden. I also loved how the interior looked spacious but still had enough unique elements to make it seem cozy (fireplace, roof, brick walls, etc). Thanks for sharing!

  • Marika 1 year ago

    I was privileged to have lunch with Joost at Hardware Lane, truly inspirational. His house is nothing short of what he does everyday. Recycle,reuse, include the environment. Amazing man with a never ending passion for everything he does. Cannot wait to see what he does next.

  • Bonnie 1 year ago

    This is proof that living well doesn’t require a lot of wastefulness. I love their approach!

  • emi 1 year ago

    Hi! love the home, especially those industrial felt drapes.. Any idea where i can get them material , et al. ? Merci!!

  • janet colman 6 months ago

    Hi, i’m right behind you people – and I wanted you to know there may be an alternative for you – are you aware of Cardia Bioplastics? I collect my vege rubbish into a Cardia bag inside my compost bucket and then I lift the whole bag out and place it into the compost. Months down the track the compostable bag has become part of my soil compost. I even now have their doggie poo bags, so similarly the poo becomes compost as well as the bag. Could you work with this and have your compost taken to another place?

    Good luck with your ventures,

    Janet Colman
    ps: even their food handling gloves are compostable.

  • Jon Wearne 4 months ago

    The most inspiring thing I’ve seen in ages. Joost is doing great things with his ideas, energy and integrity. I was building water features for the Bakkers and friends around the time he met Jenny. I remember her being delightful and the Bakker family energy was a storm of humanity that was quite infectious. I hope to meet them again sometime and especially Joost.

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