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Perched on stilts on three sides, this holiday home was designed to relate to the surrounding river, vineyard, and farmland views


While family homes are primarily used by immediate family, holiday homes are a magnet for extended family and friends. This means a holiday home should be designed to function in a different way from a primary residence.

This large holiday home is divided into three areas – one for parents and young children,one for guests and older children, and separating the two, a communal, piazza-type space where everyone can get together.

"The house can easily and comfortably accommodate 20 people, which is exactly what holiday homes should be designed for," says architect Paris Magdalinos.

When the owners first approached Magdalinos, their original plan was to transforman existing farm house into a holiday home. The site itself was spectacular, with views over a river, vineyards and farmland, but the original home was oriented towards the farm rather than the river.

The home's position, along with the fact it was designed as a primary residence rather than a holiday home, resulted in the decision to rebuild in a new location on the property.


To give maximum access to the views, the new house is surrounded by decks and terraces. Three sides are propped up on a steel-framed structure, and the eastern side flows onto a flat, outdoor entertaining area with a pool.

"The home has been designed to have uninterrupted sight lines from one end right through to the other," says Magdalinos.

"If you're on the eastern terrace, you can not only see the view directly ahead, you can look right through the house to the views on both the northern and southern sides."

The style of the home and choice of materials have been strongly influenced by its purpose as a holiday retreat.

"We started with corrugated iron because a holiday home is a temporary home. In simple terms, we wanted to create an elegant shed with a lot of openings," says Magdalinos.

The many decks, terraces and sloping roofs create a layered effect, and the vertical, red plaster elements make the home stand out.

"When you have a house that blends in to the landscape, it's good to have a couple of elements that stand out and provide relief from the otherwise horizontal lines of the house," says Magdalinos.

The structure is designed to resemble a tree – the exposed steel fingers are a metaphor for branches, and the corrugated iron is the canopy and leaves above. This metaphor reinforces the concept of the house being well-rooted on top of the section, says Magdalinos.

Inside, the organisationinto three distinct areas makes it a functional home to stay in for both the owners and their guests. The master suite includes a second bedroom, which Magdalinos says is a very important design concept.

"In a large domestic house, when you have the opportunity to put the children's and guests' bedrooms away from the master bedroom, it's very important to have one bedroom close to the master bedroom for very young children, elderly, or the sick."

At the opposite end of the home are two bunk rooms for the other children, and two guest bedrooms. The bunk rooms are ideal for children – when their friends come to stay, they can all sleep in the same room.

The home's contemporary nature called for a similarly strong approach to interior design, says interior designer Melanie Stewart.

"I knew the interior had to be strong to balance the modern element of the design. We needed bold, earthy colours, rich textures, and striking furniture.

"I also wanted to give it a bit of heart. It's a holiday home, so the children needed to be able to run around and relax. Nothing could be too precious," says Stewart.

While she wanted a look compatible with the home's contemporary nature, she didn't want to have stark, ultramodern, L-shaped sofas and gimmicky furniture that the owners would quickly get tired of.

The result is a home furnished with a mixture of one-off, interesting pieces, and antique original items.

"Some pieces of antique furniture are cracked and worn, which gives them added interest. It shows these items have a past, a life of their own."

The juxtaposition of different types of furniture, colours and textures can be clearly seen in the living room. Traditional-style sofas sit next to modern chairs upholstered in cowhide. In the centre of the room is a 1920s perspex table, on which sits a row of ostrich eggs.

"All these things work together, despite being so different. I love the juxtaposition of all these elements."

Combining patterns and textures is also something Stewart is fond of. This can also be seen in the living room, where black vinyl cushions sit next to traditional gold cushions, and fabric with a square pattern is used next to floral-patterned material.

The necessary strength of design is also achieved through use of bold colours. The kitchen/dining area features blacks and whites, the living room is dominated by red, and the family room's teal, orange and red tones reflect the teal-blue sky in the window behind.

First published date: 27 October 2006

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Credit List

Architect Paris Magdalinos
Interior designer/kitchen designer Melanie Stewart (Melbourne, VIC)
Builder Alexander Construction Ltd
Kitchen manufacturer The Kitchen Company
Window/door joinery Vantage Aluminium; David Nichol Aluminium & Glass
Window/door hardware Vantage Miro; Gainsborough Egro; HTL Hardware
Cladding Metallic silver corrugated Colorcote from B & H Roofing
Roof Flint corrugated Colorcote
Tiling/benchtops Trethewey Granite & Marble
Splashback Stainless steel from The Kitchen Company
Sink Franke
Oven, cooktop and ventilation Ilve
Carpet Source Mondial
Flooring French oak from CTC Flooring
Paints Resene
Lighting ECC Lighting
Chandelier Mondoluce
Blinds and drapes Leigh Jackson
Fabrics Mokum
Furniture Custom by Melanie Stewart; Rich Red New Zealand; Paradigm Design; Corso de'Fiori; Theodore Alexandi
Living room rug Hand-tufted New Zealand wool
Dining room accessories Peter Collis black orbs, hurricane lamps and placemats from Corso de'Fiori
Outdoor table setting Corso de'Fiori Exterior images, except page 9 top right, by Clive Ralph. All other images by Kallan MacLeod.