It has long been a dream of Kimberley and Jeffrey Swinyard, co-directors of Perth-based design practice Studio Atelier, to open a boutique retreat.
They searched for years for an appropriate property, but it wasn’t until completing The Hosting Masterclass run by Sarah Andrews, creator of highly successful accommodation Captains Rest, that their goals were fully realised.
‘After a life changing two days spent learning from her in person at The Hosting Masterclass held in Perth, I had realised we had our sights set on all the wrong markers the whole time,’ says Kimberley. ‘It truly was a blessing in disguise that all the previous offers we had on other properties had fallen through, as the course reset the path we were on and reignited our dream of creating a place true to our hearts which cultivated good design, promoted rest, and inspired creativity.’
It turns out the right property was actually a humble shed located on a five acre property in Denmark, on Western Australia’s south coast, which Kimberley and Jeffrey came across just two days after finishing the course. While the existing structure was far from a boutique holiday home, the surrounding landscape was everything they needed to work with.
‘Immediately we fell in love with the still, the quiet, and the rolling forest backdrop. The setting was just breathtaking and still stops me in my tracks when we return for a visit,’ says Kimberley.
Stillwood Retreat was created with Millbrook Construction using as much of the existing shed and its slab as possible for efficiency, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. Kimberley had just fallen pregnant with the couple’s second child when the project began, so time was of the essence!
‘We literally had the plans ready to be submitted to council along with the majority of the construction drawings before we had even settled on the property,’ says Kimberley. By the time design and council approvals came through three months later, she had already procured all the fixtures, fittings, tiles, lighting, cutlery, furniture, and bed linen.
The interiors of Stillwood Retreat, designed by Kimberley and Jeffrey, are beautiful without feeling contrived, encouraging guests to truly relax in the space. ‘It was important that while the architecture was modern and clean in its appearance, the interiors felt layered, warm, and inviting,’ says Kimberley.
Sustainable features of the property include rainwater tanks, reclaimed materials (such as the sleepers, the spiral staircase, and stone off-cuts), and native landscaping by Bonnie Stacey Landscapes. Kimberley and Jeffrey plan to build a solar array on the property in future, allowing Stillwood Retreat to eventually run off-grid.
The standout element of Stillwood Retreat is its setting, inclusive of two large dams with private jetties that overlook the rolling forest beyond. These idyllic surrounds can also be appreciated from the property’s two baths: one inside framed by a large window, and the other under the stars!