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An Eclectic Family Retreat By The Beach

Homes

Around 18 months ago, we shared the Toorak home of Jeff Provan of NEOMETRO and his wife Mariko.

Today, we profile the beautiful, bare-bones little beach shack Jeff and Mariko have created to share with their daughters and grandchildren in Mount Martha.

 

 

15th February, 2017

A detail of the mantel, including Jeff’s collection of windsurfing sailboard fins from ‘yesteryear’, a battleship embroidery found at an op shop, and a Japanese face-mask kite. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

View from the living area, looking into the main bedroom. Jeff’s collection of windsurfing sailboard fins from ‘yesteryear’, IKEA kid’s kitchen, and a green Eames chair are on show. The green surfboard in the main bedroom belonged to Jeff in the 1970s. ‘I just can’t part with it no matter how hard I try!’ he explains. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The living area of the Provan’s Mount Martha home. The floor is polished and lined, and the space features an early 2000s Jardan couch, 1960s vintage cone chairs, Ni.Ni.Creative leather cushions (designed by Jeff’s daughter Nina), and Japanese noren fabric door curtain in indigo blue. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The open living area looking to the kitchen, including 1960s vintage cone chairs, cowhide, early 2000s Jardan couch, and Ni.Ni.Creative leather cushions. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The kitchen is the original and features tiling with a new stove. Crockery collected by Jeff and Mariko over the years is also on display. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A wide shot of living room. Here sits an early 2000s Jardan couch, Tait rocking chair, and a photographic print by one of the original founders of Neometro. The French farmhouse dining table is complemented by Jeff’s favourite chairs he has collected over the years including designs by Wishbone, Thonet, Eames and Bistro, as well as Ni.Ni.Creative leather cushions. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The dining area features a French farm house dining table and Jeff’s favourite chairs he has collected over the years including designs by Wishbone, Thonet, Eames, and Bistro. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The family dining area. French farm house dining table and chairs by Wishbone, Thonet, Eames and Bistro. The Mirror is from an old Neometro suite in the 1980s, which was custom made. ‘It has a real Santa Fe vibe, and I really like it,’ explains Jeff. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A detail of the living room. ‘We’ve had this cupboard for a number of years, and until recently it was living in our old garage but have since been rediscovered it, it works well in its new home at the beach shack,’ tells Jeff. The blue-framed image is the original blue-print plan of Jeff’s childhood family home, built by his father in 1950 in West Heidelberg. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A detail of the living area. The floor is polished and lined, with vintage cowhide, 1960s vintage cone cane chair, Ni.Ni.Creative leather cushion, and original brick fireplace. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

In the master bedroom, A Japanese screen has been repurposed as a bed head, the spotted light shade is from the Camberwell Markets, and the framed illustration is by Mariko from her drawing class days, when she lived in Japan. There is a variety of bed linen collected by the couple over the years, including from various Neometro displays. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Beach shacks along Mount Martha North Beach. The Provan shack is painted white-with-red-dots, an ode to one of their favourite Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama. The red-dot motif is also featured on the façade of their home, and offers a connection between Australia and the family’s Japanese roots. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The Provans’ outside pergola area. A reclaimed terrazzo bench top from an old Neometro display has been turned into an outdoor dining table and bench seats. ‘These have been in the family for years!’ says Jeff. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Jeff with his grandson Finn. This fishing boat was made in the 1950s in Queenscliff and has since been repurposed into a cubby house. ‘At first I thought it sounded a bit kitsch, but after seeing it, I knew it was just right for the backyard,’ tells Jeff. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The façade of the Provan’s Mount Martha beach shack. Jeff has added awnings and pergolas to the existing site. The garden was designed in collaboration with Mud Design and Mowed in Australia. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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.

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