Sustainable Homes

Inside A Spectacular Sustainable Farmhouse Made From Rammed Earth

After spending a year looking at properties on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, Liz and John Matthews found 20-acres of idyllic farmlands in Shoreham to call home. It had ‘everything’ they wanted, including an old dwelling to live in while they built their dream home.

The couple were on site every day for about 18-months while the home was constructed from rammed earth — an ancient and sustainable material that helps the home stay cool in summer without air-conditioning.

Step inside their cosy farmhouse, complete with beautiful views.

Christina Karras
Editorial styling

Liz and John live at the farmhouse with their golden retriever, Elvis, six belted galloway steers and three chickens!


It’s located on 20 acres in Shoreham, about an hour from Melbourne.

‘Shoreham provides an ideal combination of rural properties and views but also close proximity to the beach. It has a quiet village feel with a lovely sense of community,’ Liz says.

The property was designed to be ‘a home just right for two’, but scalable for family and guests.

Expansive glass panels slide to open the living room to the outdoors in a spectacular fashion.

A look into one of the bathrooms.

The glass hallway connects the bedroom, bathroom and study to the living areas of the main house.

It’s equal parts rustic and modern thanks to the use of natural and earthy materials.

The rammed earth brings a subtle texture to the main buildings.

While the building is relatively modest in size, the angled roof and sliding doors enhance the home’s sense of scale.

The timber used throughout the home and across some of the furniture is reclaimed ironbark.

The calming kitchen.

‘The home is a pleasure to live in. With significant glazed areas, the views are everywhere but framed beautifully,’ John says.

Concrete floors add to the minimalistic interiors.

‘A source of much interest for the various trades was John’s intention to design and build a mechanism to lift the TV out of a 1,500mm deep cavity in the concrete slab floor,’ Liz says. This means the TV is cleverly hidden away in the slab when not in use!

The main bedroom also enjoys plenty of sunlight.

The couple’s favourite feature is the sliding glass wall in the living area.

The entire farmhouse embraces its surrounding views.

Christina Karras
Editorial styling
9th of June 2023

Adrian Bonomi

Interior Design

Liz Matthews


Shoreham, VIC

For the owners of this newly built farmhouse, sustainability was ‘set’ in their brief from the very beginning.

Retirees Liz and John Matthews came to the Mornington Peninsula looking for a site where they could build their dream home for the next chapter of their life and found it in a 20-acre farm in Shoreham — an area offering the ‘ideal combination of rural properties and views but also close proximity to the beach.

They engaged architect Adrian Bonomi and master builder Bernie Everett Building to create something that was ‘modest in size’, but still spectacular in scale. The main building only had to be big enough for the two of them, with the opportunity to still host friends and family in a two-bedroom guest wing. And this limited footprint helped reduce the use of materials, which were also carefully considered.

Rammed earth was at the core of the design, chosen for its impressive sustainable attributes. In the main buildings, walls up to a metre thick offer thermal insulation in winter and help stop heat from penetrating through in summer, eliminating the need for air-conditioning. Instead, John says they decided to ‘use cross-ventilation and take advantage of local sea breezes.’

The living spaces area connected to the bedroom wing by a dramatic glass hallway, made up of sliding doors. ‘When it’s warm, we keep the home open, so it is very much an inside-outside living environment,’ Liz adds. Plus, in the living area, two 3.6-metre-glass panels slide away to further embrace the elements and the stunning views!

Other sustainable elements include solar panels and a fully off-grid water supply using captured rainwater. Meanwhile all the timber features and even the furniture – including the dining, outdoor and coffee tables – are made from recycled ironbark, repurposed from old power poles and a wool shed, adding to the warm and earthy feel of the interiors.

While the couple were initially planning to remain in Melbourne while the home was built, lockdown meant they moved to Shoreham full-time and watched the build unfold day-by-day.

Now, the couple say the home is a pleasure to live in. ‘With significant glazed areas, the views are everywhere but framed beautifully,’ John says.

‘The initial concept of a home just right for two, but scalable for our family and guests has been achieved, so it is an easy home to live, work and entertain in.’

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