Relaxation comes first in Melanie and Peter’s home in a sleepy pocket of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Basking in space and sunlight, and embraced by coastal greenery, this is an idyllic hideaway that gently engages the senses. There’s the hypnotic call of birdsong during the day, the fragrance of flowers and herbs sprinkled through the garden, and glimpses of a deep-turquoise sea beckoning just across the road – simple delights Melanie always takes time to enjoy.
As the founder and CEO of the Endota Spa network, she is a firm believer in the importance of replenishing the mind, body and soul. So when the time came to design a dream home for herself, husband Peter, and sons Fergus, eight, and five-year-old Jimmy, the most important criterion was that it should be a true haven.
“We feel so lucky here,” says Melanie. “There are holiday homes on every side of us, which means that during the year it’s lovely and quiet.” Indeed, Melanie can feel her shoulders drop the moment that she steps through the front gate. “I do get a sense of calm every time,” she adds. “It’s almost as good as a massage!”
"We love the fact that you can’t see much of the home from the street."Melanie
Born and bred on the Peninsula, Melanie and her family were living just 400 metres up the road when they spied this perfectly positioned block. At the time, it laid claim to a house that had seen better days. “There was a typical fibro shack that had been built in the 1960s and hadn’t been touched since, so it was in a bit of a state,” says Melanie. “But Pete really had the vision, and we loved the fact that the beach is literally right across the highway. He talked me into it pretty quickly.”
Melanie couldn’t be happier that he did. After buying the property, the couple eventually made the decision to demolish the original house and, with the help of local building designer David Norman, started work from scratch on what they hoped would be their forever home. “With the vision that we had, it was too difficult to renovate,” explains Melanie. “The block is very steep, so there was a lot of excavation involved before we could get started with the build.”
Engaging interior designer Caitlin Marshall to oversee the interiors, Melanie had a clear brief. “Mel wanted to keep it organic and natural, and really let the beach vibe shine through,” explains Caitlin of the home, which really sparkles throughout summer."
“It was important to give the home a timeless feel,"Caitlin Marshall
The street level incorporates a light-flooded kitchen and living zone, as well as the bedrooms and bathrooms, while downstairs is very much the children’s domain with a playroom, bathroom and two further bedrooms. The sense of floating among the trees, with views of lush foliage from almost every window and deck, makes this two-storey abode truly special. “The garden is really Pete’s thing,” says Melanie of the expansive greenery that surrounds the house. “He just loves looking after it.”
For Melanie, her home is much more than just walls and floors. “Both Pete and I are lucky in that we each had a very strong, supportive family growing up,” she says. “I think when your home life is happy, your confidence builds and you feel free to make mistakes. We really wanted that here for the boys and for ourselves."
"Everything can be quite chaotic and busy in our lives, so to have a calm haven to return to every day is wonderful.”Melanie
“The kitchen is definitely the centre of our house,” says Melanie. “My husband is the cook – and a very good one at that!” Grounded by timeless solid blackbutt flooring, the character-filled kitchen boasts an island bench topped in hardy Quantum Quartz ‘Bianco Venato’, providing a crisp contrast to the 2-pac joinery in a custom inky blue, while the gorgeous ‘Bright Side Of Life’ pendants from Artecnica are undisputed stars. The timber bar stools were a Salvation Army find.
Tucked away behind a sliding door is a butler’s pantry that helps keep order when friends and family visit. “My mum and dad are just up the road, which is so lovely for the boys and all of us,” says Melanie. “Pete’s parents don’t live too far away either.” A collection of artworks – including a pretty floral still-life and a botanical print picked up at Homebody Orchard in Queenscliff – add colour and interest to the spaces.
The stacked sandstone fireplace in the living space was built by a stonemason friend of the couple’s.
The family living space is television-free, and that’s the way the couple likes it. “We only have one TV in the house, and it’s downstairs in the kids’ playroom,” explains Melanie. “In our previous home, we’d sit down to eat with the telly on, so we weren’t connecting. Now we really talk when we’re up here.” Creating a calm chill-out zone was important to the couple, and this airy space, furnished in soothing pastel tones, certainly fulfills the brief. The rose-pink velvet Pop & Scott ‘Dreamer’ couch, layered with cushions from Simple Form and Nathan + Jac, was a present from Melanie’s parents, and the couple bought the handwoven monochrome rug during a trip to Morocco. A leather stool is warmed by a Mongolian fur from Simple Form.
Blue and white informs the palette in the sublime bathroom. Hand-crafted encaustic ‘Blue Marin’ tiles from Lifestiles Design Studio ground the zone and were an easy choice for Melanie, who loves that “they’re not too polished- looking”. A floating vanity from Sawyers Cabinets ties in perfectly with the organic style of the room, while the circular mirror – found by Melanie and Peter during a visit to Morocco – is a cherished piece. A freestanding bath has a bird’s eye view when the plantation shutters are opened.
Simple yet sweet, Jimmy’s room features an antique navy metal bed that is softened with bedlinen by artist Jane Reiseger. On the floor, an Adairs sheepskin provides a cosy touch, while a delightful Pax & Hart ‘Sailor’ print and a tree log, doubling as a bedside table, offer an inviting element of fun.
“I wanted our room to feel like a bit of a sanctuary – and it definitely does,” says Melanie of her relaxed retreat. The soft pastel tones of the Diana Miller painting, which was bought in Bali, set the mood for the room, which, in common with the rest of the interiors, is painted in Dulux’s calm Antique White USA. On the bed, a cushion and striped throw from Simple Form provide additional notes of subtle colour and texture.