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A Storybook Cottage Designed by Alistair Knox

Homes

We’ve never met an Alistair Knox-designed home we didn’t like, but this Eltham cottage is particularly special.

Kayla Moon knows, having fallen in love with this home at first sight years ago, and awaiting their time in its walls. They now reside in the cottage on the property—a two-storey hexagonal structure located separately from the main house (which we featured back in 2019!)

We joined Kayla, floral artist at xxflos and studio director at Stay Soft, in the magical property in Melbourne’s outer northeast.

19th October, 2022

Table sourced from Homebody. ‘The gold lamp has been with me for years, as has the woven hat,’ says Kayla Moon. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Kayla Moon, floral artist at xxflos and studio director at Stay Soft, on her Eltham home balcony. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The studio is located on the same Eltham site as a larger home, both of which were designed by Alistair Knox. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Tea towel by Cowardman. The baskets and bowls are op shop finds.

Rattan chairs bought from Facebook Marketplace. ‘My pots and pans were all gifts from my step mother who was a chef back in the day,’ says Kayla. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artwork by Souljah. Ceramics by Hilary Green. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Knox was renowned for pioneering a hyperlocal ‘Eltham’ style of design championing recycled materials. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artwork by Billie Morris. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Most of the living room furniture has been bought from Facebook Marketplace and Waverley Antique Bazaar. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Bed linen by Tekla. Cushion by Clumsy. Artwork by Cristina Poleone. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artwork by Charlotte Alldis. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Lamp by bought from Didi & Dora. Bed linen by Tekla. Cushion by Clumsy. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The two-storey home emerges from the trees. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 19th October 2022

‘It’s really my dream home for this period in my life.’ – Kayla Moon

Designer Alistair Knox (1912-1986) was renowned for pioneering a hyperlocal ‘Eltham’ style of design, championing recycled materials. 

Kayla Moon, floral artist at xxflos and studio director at Stay Soft, has long been a fan of the late designer’s work since first visiting this property years ago.

‘I came across this home years ago when a good friend of mine was living in it… I have been visiting the property it’s on for years, and even did a stint in the other house that we share land with, all in hopes to one day score my little cottage,’ Kayla says. 

The time finally came in January this year, when Kayla moved into the standalone two-storey cottage located on the same site as a larger Knox house.

The exact date of these properties are unknown, but they were likely built in the early to mid 1960s to coincide with Knox’s personal house and studio that he designed, built, and lived in next door. 

This period marked a renaissance in Knox’s design career, where environmental concerns came to the forefront, resulting in houses often made from the mud on which they stood. 

‘During the lean postwar years, conventional building materials were expensive and hard to come by, and Knox’s (then) revolutionary solution was to use natural materials readily available in the shallow, clay-rich, hills of Eltham where alternative people were beginning to move and build,’ Kayla says. 

Kayla hasn’t changed a thing since moving into the home, other than introducing some colour via the addition of artwork, homewares and accessories. They describe the feel of the place ‘as comforting, minimal, colourful, and storybook-like.’

This home is best experienced on a cosy winter evening around the fireplace (with a sunken floor allowing space to sit close to the flames), or, in the mornings, waking up surrounded by nature. 

‘I love waking to the dawn chorus of birds and watching the sunrise over my bed—it warms the house and spreads dappled light around the most interesting little places,’ Kayla says. 

In Kayla’s words, the property is the perfect fairy-like bachelorette pad, offering the feeling of being outside, while being sheltered within. 

‘It’s really my dream home for this period in my life.’

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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