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A Home Designed From The Outside In

Homes

Some homes just hum on a special frequency – and today’s tour of landscape designer Sam Cox’s Wattle Glen property has an authenticity and integrity which we hope radiates through the screen!

We chat with Sam about his love of the Australian landscape, and how his ethos of ‘being in nature’ has informed the design of the beautifully understated home he shares with wife Lisa Hatfield, son Tom, and dogs Dot and Dash. This is a home to savour, and one we imagine will be long reflected upon by students of landscape architecture and design, as a best practice example of designing a home and garden which are seamlessly connected.

24th October, 2018

The TRULY magnificent mudbrick home of landscape architect Sam Cox, his life Lisa Hatfield, son Tom, doggos Dot and Dash and alpacas José and Pedro! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Looking out to the pond from the living room. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The firebox built into a mud brick fireplace is the focal point in the living room in winter, particularly for Staffies Dot and Dash! Sam and Lisa used a traditional mudbrick render i.e. river silt and cow manure on the walls and the fireplace and then coated with specialist mudbrick interior paint by Grimes&Sons. Fibre floormat hanging from Maningrida Arts & Culture. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The open plan living space is the centre of the home, looking out to waterfall/pond built by Sam. The house was built on a tight budget, and the family used a lot of salvaged materials and borrowed labour. ‘It was very rudimentary in the early years but over time we have reworked and refined aspects as we could afford,’ Lisa Hatfield says! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The entranceway. Armchair by Greg Stirling. Mimi Spirit Hunting print by Graham Badari from Injalak Arts.  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The kitchen is built with salvaged timber. The island bench is built from basketball court flooring, timber posts scrounged from a job site and messmate rafters. Redgum benchtops were cut from a mate’s property in Central Vic. The stools are recycled hardwood from Christian Cole Furniture. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The fibre wall sculpture is by Maningrida artist Lulu Laradjbi from Maningrida Arts & Culture. Cabinet by Christian Cole Furniture. Parker lounge suit circa 1973 from Lisa’s parents. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Hallway and study. Wine barrel stool built by Timbits Furniture (aka Sam’s dad!) in the 70s. Bookshelf visible in the study by Wilkins & Kent. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Dining/living area. The watercolour of Sam’s childhood home in Yandoit, Victoria was painted by his Grandfather. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The 3m long kitchen table was salvaged from a chemistry lab at University of Melbourne. It has student names scratched into the surface dating back to 1914 (!).  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Sam & Lisa’s bedroom. Artwork by Ghost Patrol. Armchair restored by Tane Furniture. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The guest bedroom. One Too Many Mornings artwork by Lisa and Sam’s friend Lachlan Rose. Ikea lamp. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Mud brick walls, hardwood shiplap panelling and soft green tiles provide a simple palette in the bathroom. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Tom, Dash, Lisa and Sam. The basalt boulder retaining work by Sam wraps around the back and side of the house, immersing it in the landscape. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The family’s pet alpacas, José and Pedro! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 24th October 2018

‘My parents were into the self-sufficient farming movement of the 70’s.’ – Sam Cox.

Sam Cox is a bit of a legend in landscape design and architecture circles, having been taught by the guru of Australian landscape design, Gordon Ford.

Sam purchased his Wattle Glen property 20 years ago, with a vision to build a home that combined their shared appreciation for the Australian environment. Sam explains ‘my parents were into the self-sufficient farming movement of the 70’s’, and this background has heavily influenced the design of his Wattle Glen home. Sam highlights ‘our home and personal style has evolved from the outside in.’

The use of mud-brick was influenced by architect Alistair Knox (of the infamous Warrandyte House previously featured on TDF!), who advocated for ‘living in the environment.’ Sam explains how he pursued a strong connection to place, and attempted to create a home with a sense of ‘being in nature.’ The interior flooring is beautiful Castlemaine slate, which extends outside into the paving stones – connecting the outer and inner seamlessly.

The interiors are uncluttered, simple and constructed of natural and recycled materials. Sam and Lisa’s favourite piece in the house is a stunning fibre sculpture by Maningrida artist Lulu Laradjbi, purchased on a trip in Arnhem Land. Sam highlights that visits to Northern Australia have influenced his understanding of place, and enhanced his deep love of the Australian landscape.

As to be expected, Sam’s landscape design prowess is in full flight in the garden! He explains ‘the waterfall and pond, sheltered by a tree canopy and nestled into a basalt rock outcrop, are an extension of the central living space. We love to open the doors and bring inside the soothing sounds of the water running over rocks.’ This peaceful home is fully immersed in the surrounding landscape, and clearly demonstrates Sam’s connection to this sunburnt country.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.