Michael and Ann had lived in Perth and travelled to their ‘cold little holiday house’ in the Margaret River region for many years. That all changed when they purchased a block at Gnarabup in 2013, and called on their architect son Matt Delroy-Carr to design a new home. Today, their life is spent mostly here, a beachside area about 15 minutes from the Margaret River township, and next to Prevelly Park.
‘It gave us everything we wanted – wonderful views of the ocean, a short walk to the beach, a national park on one side and lots of north winter sun,’ say Michael and Ann. ‘Deciding to work with our son in the early stages of his architectural career could have been risky and fraught, however, ours was a most enjoyable experience.’
The couple wrote a broad design brief for Matt, which detailed how they wanted the house to relate to its environment and, loosely, what they wanted internally. ‘We didn’t want to be contained by our own limited design ideas, and gave Matt carte blanche’ Michael and Ann recall. ‘There were elements where discussion ensued, but Matt almost always had a convincing, substantiated case which we invariably agreed with! It was all very convivial, engaging and fun.’
The brief in question included taking advantage of the Northern sun, so the home would be warm, cosy and light in winter; whilst limiting East and West facing windows to minimise the worst of the summer heat; and no large ‘scars’ from cut and fill across the site. Instead, the design was to work with an eight-metre ‘fall’ from top to bottom; and the home was to harmonise with the garden design, which in turn was to blend comfortably with the adjacent national park.
The result is a series of ‘pods’ stepping down the block with multiple framed views, which provide different perspectives on the garden and beyond to the sea, surf breaks and coastal heath. Matt mixed black-stained timber, corten steel and cement plaster on the exterior to define different pods, then continued these materials inside, alongside a softer palette of white-washed marine ply and painted plasterboard. The result is a home that will meld more and more into its landscape of subtle bush tones, while providing a contemporary, light feel inside.
Matt points to Australian modernism as a reference for the interior, while Michael and Ann have given a definite nod to mid-century design and indigenous culture in the furniture and collections. ‘Our love of indigenous art began during Ann’s career as a museum curator, and her work with indigenous people and their histories. She gained a respect for the deeply rooted link between people, culture and place’ says Michael. And why mid-century? ‘It has an enduring quality, appealing for its clean lines and lightness. It complements, rather than overpowering or sitting uncomfortably with, the design of the house.’
That sense of ‘sitting with’ rather than overpowering an existing environment has been a consistent theme in the design of this modern, yet decidedly understated home. Matt says the exterior will age into its landscape over time, and it seems Michael and Ann plan to stay put to see that evolve. ‘While we wouldn’t hesitate to work with Matt again, I doubt we’ll be leaving here for many years!’ they say.
The home of Ann Delroy and Michael Carr in Gnarabup, WA. The Eastern side of the home, pictured here, is clad in ebony-stained pacific teak. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The galley-style kitchen has framed views up into the coastal heath of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge. The bar stools were designed in the 1960s by Japanese designer Yuzuru Yamakawa. On bench: Guaxs vase from Ultimo Interiors, Stelton teapot and mesh bowl from Table Culture and wooden boards from Simon Johnson. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The Northern corridor of the entry gallery is clad in corten and timber to define the library (left) and main bedroom (right) pods respectively. Rugs from Temple Rugs & Cultural Tours. Artwork on wall by Waldemar Kolbusz. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
Michael and Ann’s favourite design elements of their home include the separation of spaces for family and visitors, connection with the garden, and views to the ocean and National Park. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The upstairs living dining/dining area. Two Danish Stouby sofas (designed in 1950 but this pair dated 1960s and early 1970s). Mid century coffee table by Melbourne designer Jacob Rudowski. The dining table is by Antonio Citterio and chairs, designed in 1950s, by Japanese designer Yuzuru Yamakawa. Lamp and cushions from Ultimo Interiors, Stelton bowl from Table Culture and Eveline Kotai artworks (behind the sofa) from Art Collective WA. Rug from Temple Fine Rugs. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
Dining table by Antonio Citterio, chairs by Yuzuru Yamakawa. The pendant lights are moulded ceramics by Catalonian designer Xavier Manosa and the pair ‘Mashallah’ based in Berlin. On the table are a vase, candleholder and vessel from Table Culture. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
This is the only West-facing window, to combat the summer heat. Beside it is a small study zone with Pulpo Fumi lamp from Ultimo Interiors, carved indigenous figure from Mossenson Galleries, a Bison vase from Table Culture and an artwork by Tiwi Islanders. An external ‘hidden’ blind can be lowered to cut the later afternoon sun, whilst good cross ventilation catches the summer sea breezes and cools the house quickly. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
Ann and Michael relish the connection to their natural environment, after many years living in the city’s ‘concrete jungle.’ they say. ‘It is very grounding to live within this environment: to watch the whale migration, the birds nesting each season, the wildflowers blooming in the springtime and the food garden producing seasonally.’ Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The entrance gallery: Michael and Ann, and Matt, all point to this area as their favourite area of the home. The white wall panels have been placed over the timber cladding to create specific gallery areas for Michael and Ann’s collection. The paintings here are by senior law woman Tilau Nangal (left) and Beyula Puntungka Napanangka (right). The rugs are from Temple Fine Rugs. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The hoop pine cladding of the library provides a cocoon-like quality further emphasised by the Antonio Citterio-designed chairs that envelop the sitter. The rug is hand-knotted silk and wool titled Sahar Fusion and is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Persian rug patterns by Haynes Robinson from Temple Fine Rugs. The artwork is by Waldemar Kolbusz. ‘Flooded with northern sun in winter and enveloped in a lining of hoop pine, the library is a wonderfully warm cocoon-like space in the winter,’ say Michael and Ann. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
Looking from the entrance gallery to the stairs that lead to the main living areas. The painting is by Beyula Puntungka Napanangka from the Papunya art community in the Western Desert and was bought from Mossenson Galleries. The rugs are from Temple Fine Rugs. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The master ensuite is coordinated around two zones: wet and dry. The wet zone reads like a colder, sharper tiled space, while the dry zone is warmer and softer, clad in hoop pine. Linen towel from Pure Linen. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The main bedroom is a lesson in restraint. The bed was designed by Antonio Citterio, bedlinen from Pure Linen. Tony Nathan artworks from Art Collective WA and the hand-dyed and hand-knotted rug sourced via Temple Rugs & Cultural Tours. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
Main bedroom into the entry gallery, with corten cladding of the library ‘box’ just visible beyond. Above the 19th century Scottish pine chest is a woodcut by Noongar artist Laurel Nannup titled The Lolly Tree. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
The upper level spotted gum deck is concealed between two pods. Pacific teak clads the exterior, while a rough sawn plywood lines the raked reveals to the main glazed doors. The view to the East looks toward national parkland. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.
Flatlock corten panels clad the library volume in the foreground, and a glass-face cement render is on the exterior of the guest wing. The small grassed area is the only ‘structured’ piece of landscape, referencing the boxy volumes of the house in the landscape. Styling – Anna Flanders. Photo – Dion Robeson.