Jeff Provan has been in the business of building beautiful houses for more than 30 years. As director and co-founder of respected design, construction and development company NEOMETRO, Jeff has an intuitive understanding of what makes a great home. When it came to creating a beach retreat for his own family, though, Jeff found himself adopting a surprisingly ‘hands-off’ approach!
After downsizing from their long serving family home in Melbourne, Jeff and Mariko were interested in finding a coastal retreat. After a twelve month search, they discovered this two bedroom fibro beach shack just metres from Mount Martha beach. They bought it on the spot.
Originally, the pair had grand plans for re-building on this generous site, but it wasn’t long before they reconsidered. Soon after taking possession, it was clear that this humble shack had a special charm worth preserving. ‘Now, we love this place so much and it works so well as a beach shack, that we are keeping it exactly as is’ says Jeff. ‘It’s not pretentious or precious, and has a great relaxed feeling to it’.
That’s the thing about beach shacks. They can be everything that a day-to-day home is not. As a temporary retreat, a weekender offers permission to be imperfect.
Jeff and Mariko have embraced this sentiment at Mount Martha, making only minor cosmetic changes since moving in. Walls have been painted, floors polished, and light fittings replaced. One of their first priorities, in fact, has been the garden. Jeff is passionate about the connection between interior and outside spaces, and places great emphasis on garden design in all his projects. The garden here has been re-designed and landscaped, and pergolas and awnings adding to the front and side of the home, offering protected lounging and dining spaces outside.
Inside, the shack has evolved naturally, an accumulation of furniture and objects collected over Jeff and Mariko’s 40 years together. Favourite pieces include the couple’s collection of various dining chairs which ‘didn’t make the cut’ in their city home, as well as pieces by Melbourne-made furniture brand Tait Outdoor. There’s also a nod to Mariko’s heritage, with traditional Japanese fabric dividers called ‘Noren’ hanging over doorways.
For Mariko and the couple’s children and grandchildren, this coastal retreat is the ultimate summer sanctuary. For Jeff, it’s been a revelation to create a simple, beautiful home, without doing very much at all. ‘The way we have decorated the home was not really to save money or anything, but just about not wasting anything we already we had’ Jeff explains. ‘There are so many things that can be added to a home, but knowing when to stop makes all the difference.’
For a glimpse at the world through Jeff’s eyes, check out his snaps on instagram at @openjournal_neometro.