Inside A Simple But Striking Beach House, Surrounded By Trees

The brief for this family home in Balnarring was simple: to design a sustainable home that felt connected to the community, the landscape, and the changing seasons.

Constructed from sustainably sourced local hardwood, Monterey House by Insider Outsider blends perfectly into its coastal surrounds and towering pine trees, drawing on a combination of varied design influences, from Brutalist architecture to ‘regional modernism’.

Christina Karras

The striking Monterey House by Insider Outsider. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

BC Build worked in collaboration with Carr Projects on the new build. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

Despite being newly built from the ground up, the weathered timber exterior helps the home blend into the established natural environment. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

Sliding glass doors connect the living room to an expansive deck. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

The suburb’s sense of peace and quiet continues inside the home. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

Natural light enhances the warm interiors. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

Quiet spaces for contemplation are positioned by the home’s windows. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

Indoor-outdoor living. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

‘There are some influences of brutalism and various examples of regional modernism in the physical design response, but more directly the design was influenced by the site, the seasons and the people it was designed for,’ David says. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

It’s the quintessential Australian beach house with a nod to California’s coastline. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit

Christina Karras
15th of December 2022

Remember the age-old cliche that ‘less is more’? We’ve seen trends championing maximalism and minimalism to varying degrees in recent years, but this home on the Mornington Peninsula is making a compelling case for the beauty of simple design.

Balnarring is one of the hidden gems of the Peninsula, with has more of a coastal village feel and a forest-like landscape, compared to the bustling holiday destinations of Portsea and Sorrento. It’s this same sense of peace and quiet that the owners of Monterey House wanted to reflect in their new build, named after the similarly rugged coastline in California.

The family enlisted the help of local design studio Insider Outsider to transform their coastal block, which was originally the neighbouring property’s garden. It was a blank canvas, featuring towering trees that ultimately influenced the house’s minimalistic aesthetic.

‘The brief was to design a simple, sustainable and efficient family home which was connected to the community, the landscape and the seasons,’ Insider Outsider director David Brodziak says.

‘It needed to respond to the evolving needs of a young family while creating high quality spaces that were naturally lit and ventilated.’

David says they opted for a singular approach the materials, using a sustainably sourced, local hardwood for most of the property. The naturally weathered silvertop ash timber on the exterior ensured the building’s clean lines could ‘quickly’ blend into its established surroundings as if it had been there for years. A combination of influences from Brutalist architecture and ‘regional modernism’ help the resulting property feel both contemporary and timeless.

Passive solar design principles were also key to the project. Thoughtfully placed windows are dotted around the home, providing natural light and ventilation, in addition to creating ‘informal spaces’ that draw the owners to the views of the landscape. There’s also an expansive deck beyond the living rooms’s sliding doors.

The interiors are similarly pared-back and serene with warm timber lining across the walls, floors, and even the refined carport.

‘My favourite parts are the threshold moments at the building edges, where careful details are animated by the passing of light and shadow throughout the days and the seasons,’ David says.

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