The holiday home of interior designer Leigh Ellwood was originally a 1970s beach shack. When the original house burned down in the early ‘80s, it was rebuilt on the same footprint and in exactly the same style, and remained in the same family for the next 30 years.
Leigh and her family purchased the home in 2020 for its modest size, water views, and location along Victoria’s world famous Great Ocean Road. She initially planned to just ‘tweak’ a few elements, but the project quickly grew into a larger scale renovation.
When designing the interiors, Leigh was inspired by the seaside cabin on the Côte d’Azur in France, designed and owned by the famed architect and designer, Le Corbusier. ‘It’s both a total work of art and the archetype of the “minimum cell” based on an absolute and functionalist approach,’ says Leigh. Despite its tiny 13 square metre footprint and scaled back interior, Le Corbusier reportedly described the home as ‘extravagant in comfort and gentleness.’
Leigh envisioned a similar minimal timber home, allowing the ocean views to take centre stage.
Builder Alex Penfold lived onsite during the renovation, which took the better part of 12 months. Works involved demolition of a bedroom, a new kitchen, reconfiguring two existing small bathrooms into a family bathroom, a new powder room, new lighting, relining and insulating the ceiling, and the installation of a fireplace.
Max Paint Melbourne sealed the plywood surfaces, and painted the remaining walls in Watermark by Porter’s Paints. ‘Watermark was selected to absorb light and soften the connection to the plywood,’ says Leigh.
‘Mornings are a favourite time given the uninterrupted views to the south, and the east with the early morning light often causing the new plywood walls to glow.’
Decoration throughout the home is deliberately minimal, except for the oyster paintings by 1998 Archibald Prize winner (and 18-time nominee!) Lewis Miller, painted directly onto the plywood living room walls. ‘This involved the installation then removal of the wall panels so Lewis could complete the works in his Melbourne studio, then their reinstallation back in the house. Phew!’ says Leigh.
Leigh and her family spend their days in the home taking in the constantly changing ocean views, and local birdlife that passes by at eye level.
A house too special for words!