Interior designer Léo Terrando rents this incredible Bells Beach house (on Victoria’s Surf Coast) 10 years ago, which he shares with partner Jessica Watts. 

Believed to have been designed by acclaimed architect Kevin Borland in 1975, the house is characterised by vaulted timber ceilings that bring warmth and a distinctly eclectic character to its otherwise beachy feel.

‘The structural timber is entirely exposed and it follows the origami shape of the house, which means that the lighting – either natural or artificial – creates so many different contrasts and shadows,’ Léo says.

Léo was taken with the property’s unique design, as well as its awe-inspiring location set back from famous Bells Beach. ‘I love the fact that the house is away from everything,’ he says. ‘Being able to see the ocean from the house as well as hearing all the birds living in the area is truly magical.’

Most updates have been cosmetic only, such as updating the lighting fixtures throughout the home. ‘The lighting is so important for me, I have brought in so many different styles and types of lights, lamps, shades, from all different designers and eras,’ Léo says.

The home has also been painted inside and out, in colours including Dulux Milton Moon (in the living and dining room) with Dulux Klute, Dulux Luck and Dulux Vivid White in the kitchen and skirtings throughout.

The house has been a challenge to furnish due to its many windows – over 50 in total! To overcome this, and to balance out the extensive timber panelling, Léo has styled the space with an eclectic mix of free-standing furniture, and large indoor plants. Most of the furniture and accessories are 1960s and ‘70s Italian pieces, and alongside these are personal items that show off the couple’s personality, such as surfboards and bold, abstract artwork. 

Overall this home feels effortlessly cool, relaxed and unpretentious – just like its Bells Beach location. Léo says, ‘Waking up to kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and echidnas… It really feels like we are living in the middle of the forest.’ Living the dream!

This article has been updated. 

Artwork in the background is ‘Checked Square’ by Jacob Leary. ‘Tufty-Too’ modular sofa from B&B Italia, designed in 2011 by Patrizia Urquiola. 1970s Italian chrome and glass coffee table. 1957 Saarinen ‘Tulip’ side table. Rug from RC&D. Vintage Italian chair in Mongolian wool dyed blue. Recycled French oak coffee table designed and build by Leo.  Alfredo Barbini Murano Italian art glass dish. ‘Vesuvius’ lava glaze bowl by Jonhathan Adler. Hand-woven cotton light pendant from Paris au mois d’aout. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The lush entry foyer. ‘Planula’ dining chairs by Giovanni Carini, 1970. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Designer Léo Terrando; and model, actor and a producer Jessica Watts. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Artwork in the background is ‘Checked Square’ by Jacob Leary. ·’Tufty-Too’ modular sofa from B&B Italia, designed in 2011 by Patrizia Urquiola. 1970s Italian chrome and glass coffee table. 1957 Saarinen ‘Tulip’ side table. Rug from RC&D. Vintage Italian chair in Mongolian wool dyed blue. Recycled French oak coffee table designed and build by Leo.  Alfredo Barbini Murano Italian art glass dish. ‘Vesuvius’ lava glaze bowl by Jonhathan Adler. Hand-woven cotton light pendant from Paris au mois d’aout. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Artwork is ‘Act 1 Scene 2’ by Deidre Bruhn. 1959 Verner Panton wire cone chair. Mimi Kelly untitled print. Green Gaudi chairs by Vico Magistretti for Artemide, 1970s. ‘Four’ dining table Desk from Kartell designed by Feruccio Laviani. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

1970s Cristalart mirrored console table. Charles and Ray Eames executive table for Hermann Miller with Arabescatto marble top. Limited edition 1974 ‘Monk’ chairs by Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Molteni. 1962 ‘Arco’ floor lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. Zac Koukoravas artwork. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Dulux ‘Milton Moon‘ paint. Charles and Ray Eames executive table for Hermann Miller with Arabescatto marble top. Limited edition 1974 ‘Monk’ chairs by Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Molteni. 1962 ‘Arco’ floor lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Volkswagen Kombi 1977. Framed photograph Leo took inside the escalator of the Centre George Pompidou in Paris beside his surfboards. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Kartell ‘Ghost stools. Mayday lamps by Kanstantin Grcic for Flos. Dulux Klute, Dulux Luck and Dulux Vivid White paints. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Danish high sideboard. 1970s Italian table lamp. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Early 1900s church pew·. Moroccan rug. ‘TOIO’ floor lamp designed in 1962 by Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Mid-century Australian credenza that Leo found at the tip. Ceramic from west Germany. Laurana Rame D’arte Italian copper enamel bowl 1960. Mid-century modern Italian ‘Selenova’ table lamp in murano glass. Collection of 1960s clear glass Czech vases. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Java Couple sculptures. 1950s French mirror. Jielde Floor Lamp Loft D 1240 from Flos. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Rug from RC&D. Red lacquered metal frame ‘Vanessa’ bed designed by Tobia Scarpa for Cassina. Chrome and glass Italian coffee table. ‘Brumbury’ table lamp by Luigi Massoni for Guzzini. Original ‘Mushroom’ armchair by Pierre Paulin for Artifort. Artwork ‘Difficult Pleasure’ by Brett Ferry. Cedar cladding on walls. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Jess with the couple’s dog, Button. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Jess, Léo and Button! Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The awe-inspiring view out to Bells Beach. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

It really feels like we are living in the middle of the forest,’ says Léo. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

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