Home Tours

A new, sustainable home in the glorious Mornington Peninsula

Rammed earth, timber and polished concrete blend beautifully with the natural setting.
open plan dining and living area with timber clad ceilingPhotography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright

For retirees Liz and John, every day in their newly built, sustainable home in Shoreham on the Mornington Peninsula feels like a holiday. “It’s a very easy home to live in – simple and uncluttered, calm and quiet,” says homeowner Liz. Particularly appealing is the way in which the home adapts with the changing seasons, constantly presenting itself in myriad lights. “The difference between summer and winter is significant, both in terms of the temperature and the view,” she adds.

sustainable home with timber cladding exterior
The home is made from materials that are sympathetic to its wild surrounds. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Who lives here? Liz and John, who are recently retired, with their two-year-old Golden Retriever, Elvis; Betty, Mary and Jo, the chooks; and Belted Galloway steers Goose, Saddle, Spot, Smooch, Shaggy and Spit (“Yes, we know we shouldn’t name them,” they say).

Favourite room? John: “The living room is the highlight, with views on three sides and the cosy fire in winter.”

Biggest challenge? “Covid was a big factor, with the whole build taking place during a significant period of lockdowns and other restrictions in Victoria.”

Top sustainable design tip? “Make the home as small as it needs to be, rather than as big as it can be.”

entry with architectural steel archway and sliding glass doors
The home was designed for owners Liz and John to live in and accommodate their daughters when they visit. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Owners John and Liz stand at the impressive entry to their home in rural Victoria, with Elvis the Golden Retriever. “It’s a lovely, sunny spot in the morning and becomes cool and shady in the afternoon,” says Liz. The pair are understandably pleased with the look and feel of their home, which is made from rammed earth, steel and recycled timber to sit quietly within its rural setting.

Rammed earth home
A mix of architectural steel and rammed earth create an impactful entry. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

The couple had spent their married years living in Melbourne’s bayside area, but when they retired and their adult daughters Rosie and Kate moved interstate, John proposed a change of scene. “Liz wasn’t on board with a move to the country, so she rented a house in Shoreham for the weekend, thinking that would be enough to get it out of my system,” John recalls. “The opposite happened, and within a day or two, our active search began.”


In its elevated position, the open-plan living space looks out to the surrounds and has slide-away doors. “With views on three sides, the living space is a definite highlight,” says John. A brown leather ‘Conrad’ sofa from Arthur G pairs beautifully with the ironbark timber coffee table, made by Ideal Cabinets, to match the dining table. The Prime Time chairs are from Great Dane. Polished concrete floors reinforce Liz and John’s desire to keep things simple.

Living room with bench seat
The custom bench in the living space is the ideal spot to take in the view. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Dining area

Recycled ironbark ceilings, steel beams and rammed earth walls have been paired with complementary furniture pieces, such as the recycled ironbark dining table by Ideal Cabinets and wicker dining chairs from Coastal Living

open plan dining and living area with timber clad ceiling
The dining table is made from recycled ironbark with wicker dining chairs. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

We love a hidden TV

Where’s the TV, you ask? Keen to hide theirs away when not in use, John devised a solution where the television would rise up out of a cavity in the floor for evening viewing, then slide back down when not in use. “Just about every tradesman had to get involved, but now we don’t have a television spoiling the view,” he says.

living area with polished concrete floors and timber ceiling
The kitchen, dining and living areas flow into each other. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

It took about 12 months to find the right property: 20 acres of farmland that boasted views of the valley and Western Port Bay and provided the open space they craved. Their vision was for a one-bedroom home that could scale up to accommodate their daughters and friends when they came to visit. They used sustainable materials where possible. “We’d previously done extensive renovations, but never a full build and certainly not one of this scale,” says John. “We needed a team we could trust.”

Outdoor access

Large double-sliding doors from Vitrocsa, each weighing over 350kg, make up one wall of the living area and slide away completely, creating a seven-metre-wide opening. “They’re a terrific feature when entertaining, as the whole of the living space opens out to the terrace,” Liz shares.

Indoor outdoor living area
The expansive sliding doors invite the environment in, whether open or closed. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)


“The kitchen has been designed to be highly functional but with very clean, simple lines,” says Liz. In an effort to limit the number of materials used, the benchtops, splashback and sink are all made from glass fibre-reinforced concrete by Concrete Collective. Joinery by Ideal Cabinets in recycled ironbark from Kennedy’s Timber and black Paperock ply provide a rich and warm counterpoint, as does the pendant designed and made by John. Loft 23 elm wood bar stools from Temple & Webster fit in nicely.

kitchen with concrete benchtop and timber details
A glass-fibre reinforced benchtop is hardy as well as beautiful. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Master builder Bernie Everett was engaged to bring the plans to life. “Bernie brought a wealth of experience to the build and so much local knowledge,” says Liz. “The project became an Everett family affair with Bernie’s son, Rip, one of the carpenters and Bernie’s wife, Janine – an accomplished local artist – producing paintings for the main wing,” she adds.

kitchen with black cabinetry and timber details
The concrete-panelled kitchen splashback slides to reveal the pantry. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Their architect incorporated the couple’s wish list for rammed earth, timber and weathered steel into a contemporary multi-wing abode. There are two main wings linked by a glass-sided hallway, with the couple’s bedroom, dressing room, bathroom and study in one wing, and the open-plan kitchen, dining and living space, laundry and powder room in the other. Large glass doors and walls slide away for airflow, providing an instant connection to two outdoor terraces and the surrounding countryside.

walkway with polished concrete floors
A walkway serves as the link between different spaces. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

While it wasn’t their original plan to live at the property during the build, they’re very glad they did. “Even with detailed plans, there are always decisions to be made and it was really valuable to be on site to answer questions,” says John. “We could see on a daily basis the incredible effort that goes into producing such a house and the pride that our team took in doing so.” And they continue to appreciate those efforts today. “Each day starts with us admiring the view from bed and finishes with us enjoying the sunset with a drink,” says Liz.

walkway with polished concrete floors
A timber ceiling draws you along the walkway. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Main bedroom

“Our bedroom is relatively small and simple,” says John. “The only furniture is the bed and the feature is the view.”

Bedroom with timber bedhead
A simple, natural palette flows throughout the home. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)


A Stone Meek Intra II bath by Concrete Collective is the focal point. “It’s like having a bath outside,” Liz says. Evolution wall tiles in Dark from Life’s Tiles pair nicely with the concrete floor and glass fibre-reinforced concrete basin and bench. Shaving cabinets by Ideal Cabinets and Brodware ‘Nanobar’ tapware from E&S Trading add functionality.

Bathroom with timber cabinetry and polished concrete floors
Concrete continues in the bathroom’s floors, basin and bench. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Indoor-outdoor living

The home embraces the tree-lined views from multiple angles. “We are very much embedded in the land, but well protected from the elements and prevailing wind by the rammed earth and double glazing,” says John.

Bathroom with freestanding concrete bath
You can take in the outdoors from the bath. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Guest wing

A third separate guest wing is linked to the main home by a covered walkway. Clad in recycled ironbark, it has three bedrooms and a bathroom. “It’s very deliberately a separate structure,” says Liz, “the idea being that when no-one is staying, it’s out of sight, out of mind.”

Entertaining area with glass sliding doors
Liz traverses ‘The Link’ in front of the entertaining terrace. Ideal Cabinets made the outdoor dining setting using recycled ironbark from Kennedy’s Timber. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

“Colours and furniture were kept to a minimum to make the space functional.”

Liz, homeowner
home with ironbark cladding
The ironbark-clad guest wing offers a change from the rammed earth wings. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)


Architect: Adriano Bonomi, adrianbonomi.com.au.
Builder: Bernie Everett Building, bernieeverettbuilding.com.au.

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