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A Dreamy Seaside Artist’s Studio On A 19th Century Farm

Interiors

Of all the fantasies in all the world, being an artist by the sea is surely one of the most popular. To do so on 19th-century farm on the cliff of a breezy peninsula is simply the stuff of fairytales!

The owners of historic Spray Farm on the Bellarine Peninsula engaged Watts Studio and Amiconi Architect to design a new studio on the ocean side of the property where the pair of artists could spend days painting and looking out over the sea. Taking the heritage-listed homestead and the history of the farmhouse locale as inspiration, the designers created a space greatly informed by surrounds but with its own contemporary characteristics.

With sweeping views out over Corio Bay and the You Yangs mountain range, the main point became to design a building where both artist and architecture could settle into the landscape.

15th September, 2021

The artist’s studio by Watts Studio and Amiconi Architect is a new build on a historic property. Spray Farm dates back to 1851. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

It was crucial that the new building respected the heritage of the site while simultaneously reflecting a muted contemporary attitude. The exterior steel work is painted in Dulux Monument. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

The designers went through archival photographs and documents to arrive at their design. They also salvaged original bricks and bluestone pavers from a demolished outbuilding to incorporate back into the new structure. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

The interiors are intentionally minimalist in order to respect the historical continuity of the project, but also to act as a blank canvas for the pair of painters to work in. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

Kitchen cabinetry painted in Dulux Ghosting. Walls painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

The studio looks out over Corio Bay and the You Yangs. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

All the interior joinery is made with American oak, including the towering bookcase. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

The studio contains an area for painting, a study space, kitchenette, powder room and a glasshouse. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

A wide verandah wraps the ocean-side face of the building, paved with Eco Outdoor Porphyry. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

The building is located in a fold in the landscape. It is designed to settle into the natural surrounds with time. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

A kitchen garden is located next to the studio space. Photo – Timothy Kaye. Styling – Marsha Golemac.

Sasha Gattermayr
Wednesday 15th September 2021

‘The building is tucked into a fold in the landscape. It reveals itself as the view over Port Phillip Bay open out and you get closer to the site.’ – Felicity Watts

Spray Farm is a 60-hectare property on the Bellarine Peninsula that was originally built in 1851. The current clients purchased it in 2014 and soon engaged interior designers Watts Studio to collaborate with Amiconi Architect on an art studio on the property.

Before starting the plans, the designers educated themselves on the history of the property – leafing carefully through archival photographs and documents, and salvaging discarded bluestone and bricks from an original outbuilding to re-use in the new design.

The final space had to be reflective the site’s heritage status, but also contemporary, with its own architectural attitude. ‘Proud but subservient to the homestead,’ describes interior designer and director of Watts Studio, Felicity Watts.

Barn-like in stature, the studio takes the shape of a traditional gabled outbuilding. A studio area for painting, a study area, kitchenette, powder room and a glasshouse are contained inside, the latter of which would open out to the kitchen garden. A wide verandah wraps the facade and reaches to the original homestead in a gesture of connection.

The interior brick walls are up to three metres high, allowing for double height ceilings and a pitched roof.

A muted colour and material palette was chosen for historical continuity – incorporating polished concrete floors, exposed brick walls, stainless industrial worktops and steel-framed windows.

The interior joinery (including the towering bookcase!) is made from American oak, while spotted gum battens cladding the exterior will weather over time and ease the structure into its pasture and Norfolk pines around it.

‘The intentionally minimal interior acts as a blank canvas for our client’s art practice and emphasises the surrounding outlook across the countryside. We didn’t want to over-complicate the design, rather focus on quality materials and refined details,’ says Felicity.

All in all, it’s a work of art!

See more projects by Watts Studio here.

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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