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A Pint-Sized Coastal Home That Does More With Less!

Homes

Harriet Birrell aka Natural Harry aims to live as minimally as possible – a philosophy that extends to her Bellarine Peninsula home, shared with her husband, sustainable building designer Fraser West.

At just 40 square metres, this pint-sized home is smaller than the average one-bedroom Melbourne apartment! But the couple wouldn’t have it any other way. With multipurpose features galore and vast open surroundings, what the home lacks in size it makes up for in functionality and access to nature.

Not gonna lie, this pretty much looks like THE DREAM after the last few months of lockdown in Melbourne!

28th October, 2020

‘I love the outlook from our bench seat under the outdoor roof,’ says Harriet. ‘The low deck is the perfect spot to sit in the sun and read.’ Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Harriet aka Natural Harry with their koolie x border collie, Fred! Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Gardening tools are always at the ready. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Harriet made the shoe racks herself. ‘This space is like out tiny version of a utilities or boot room. Most of our gardening and outdoor gear is stored here at the entrance,’ she says. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The view from the couple’s bed. Dog bed from Hello Trader. Wedding photos printed by OnStone. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Pop & Scott sofa. Rug from Kyo. Cushions are recycled Turkish rugs. Jute artwork from The Dharma Door. The lamp was a 18th birthday gift from Harriet’s mum. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Ply draws and shelving made by Fraser and stocked with DIY products made by Harriet. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Stainless steel bench tops made by Fraser. Drying racks above the sink from Ikea. Dining table found in hard rubbish. Chairs from the Mill Markets in Geelong. Under bench curtains made by Harriet from calico dyed with avocado pits. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The drying racks from Ikea double as more storage. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Bedding by I Love Linen. Throw from Wild Throw Co. Pop & Scott sofa. Rug from Kyo. Cushions made from recycled Turkish rugs. Jute artwork from The Dharma Door. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The bedroom nook! A highlight window frames views of trees surrounding the home. Artwork by Camilla Walford. Bedding by I Love Linen. Throw from Wild Throw Co. Cushion made from recycled Turkish rugs. Rug from Kyo. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Op-shop vases around the record player. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The bathroom is minimal and simple. ‘We added a long mirror to help the small space feel more open. The vanity doubles as open cabinetry for us to store towels,’ says Harriet. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

‘Fraser did the repairs on the existing footprint including freshening up the small bathroom with a new shower made from offcuts from the roof and cladding,’ says Harriet. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

In the background is Fred’s second dog bed – an old wine barrel that Fraser altered! Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The bed nook has its own openable window. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Harriet’s new book, Home by Natural Harry! Beanbags double as comfortable outdoor seating when the weather permits.  Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The couple grow spinach, silverbeet, kale, beetroot, tomatoes, peas, thyme, parsley, sage, basil and spring onion in their veggie patch. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The outdoor furniture was made by Fraser including a wine barrel that doubles as an umbrella holder. The fire pit was custom made. One side of the facade is painted with Dulux Stowe White, the rest is clad in corrugated iron roofing.  Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 28th October 2020

‘The feeling is welcoming and airy, yet with a grounding earthy feel.’ – Harriet Birrell

Many people strive to ‘do more with less’ when building their home, but author and recipe writer Harriet Birrell aka Natural Harry, and building designer Fraser West, walk the talk. Eight years ago, the couple renovated an exisiting structure into their 40 square metre house, and have happily lived here ever since. 

Living in such a small house requires a hardworking design with multipurpose features. For example, the couple’s wardrobe is also their bathroom, a stand-up desk doubles as a bookshelf, and the kitchen includes Harriet’s study. Even the bedroom is a multipurpose space, adopting a nook in the living room wall! ‘It fits a queen size bed snuggly. It is very cosy and nice to be right next to a window in the summer months,’ says Harriet. 

Harriet describes her home as warm, light, natural and comfortable. ‘The feeling is welcoming and airy, yet with a grounding earthy feel,’ she says. Dulux Stowe White has been used indoors and out to complement raw plywood and corrugated iron. ‘Because the space is so small and the ceilings quite low on one side, it has been important to use white to make the space feel bigger,’ says Harriet. ‘It has made a huge difference.’

After eight years living in this house, the couple still have no desire to extend the space or make major changes. ‘I love that we have not increased the size of the building and stuck to the existing footprint, instead altering the layout of the interior to be super clever and practical,’ Harriet says. ‘It has forced us to live more simplistically and with less.’ 

This house has also given Harriet and Fraser a greater appreciation of the space around them, including their veggie patch, and outdoor area where their dog Fred loves to roam! 

You can find out more about Harriet’s lifestyle in her brand new book, Home by Natural Harry, which is out tomorrow (just as Melbourne’s book stores reopen)!

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net