Who lives here: Chris McKimm, director of design and construction firm InForm; his wife Andrea; and their children Cameron, 33; Jonathon, 29; Matthew, 27; and Lucinda, 23.
Style of house: A four-bedroom, three-bathroom holiday home with a mid-century influence.
Timeline: The land was bought in 2009 with work starting in August 2013 and completed in April 2014.
Cost: The cost for the land and build came to around $2 million.
The signs outside the McKimms’ holiday house on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula are clear: ‘No Public Beach Access.’ Backing onto a national park and just a short walk to the ocean, owner Andrea McKimm says, “Sometimes when we look out towards Bass Strait from the shore, there’s not a soul in sight. You can’t see any houses – maybe a ship or two – but you really could be in the middle of nowhere.” The only caveat? The surfers. “They know all the best breaks,” she says. “But this is an excellent secret spot so we don’t mind sharing it with them.”
Sitting on just over 3000 square metres, the land is generous and private. It’s sand-dune terrain, so Simon Perkins of Pleysier Perkins contoured the lawn that gently rolls up to the home’s north-facing deck. Sunken snugly into the native landscape and surrounded by tea trees, the restrained lines of the house contrast with the rugged coastal environment without jarring or imposing.
This is the third property the family has owned in Blairgowrie, and prior to purchasing this site six years ago, they had a holiday house just one street away. “We’ve been coming here since we were kids,” says the youngest of the McKimm children, Lucinda.
“Our first place was a tiny little box that we had a lot of fun in, and our second property offered a view of this block of land.”
The brief for architect Simon was simple: “We wanted it to nestle into the vegetation, respond to the natural environment, sit below the tree canopy, and have good orientation to the sun. He did that perfectly,” says Andrea. “It’s single storey, low maintenance with natural finishes, and has a neutral palette and laid-back feel – just what we wanted.”
Pale brickwork forms a central spine from the entry right through the centre of the house, creating a hallway with the living area to one side and bedrooms on the other. Bricks were chosen primarily for the low-maintenance perks but they also hint at the mid-century architecture that Andrea has such affection for. She says it reminds her of “the cool houses some of my friends had in Beaumaris growing up in the ’70s”. The thermal mass of the brick also stores heat, making the house more energy efficient.
Andrea put her keen eye for interiors to good use and was involved in the interior design process with Kanako Nakanishi, also of Pleysier Perkins, but steered clear of sentimentality when it came to furniture. “It’s a beach house, so I didn’t want anything too precious,” she says. “The only exception was the Eames chair in the living area, which is highly sought after when Chris isn’t using it. I like to sit there and read when the afternoon sun pours in.”
The house is just big enough to accommodate the entire McKimm clan, which includes Andrea and Chris’s four children, who flock here regardless of the season. “In winter, my favourite part of the house is the living room, when all the family comes down and we sit by the fire with a red wine, watching the footy,” says Andrea. “In summer, it’s the alfresco area where we have sunset drinks and barbecue dinners.”
A flat plane projecting from the roof forms a covered deck that runs the entire length of the house. It’s the perfect spot for summer outdoor entertaining, such as the first Christmas Chris and Andrea hosted at the house last year. It’s occasions like this that conversation inevitably turns to work, with the whole family working in the construction and design industry.
The entire process was smooth sailing. “But then again, we’re biased because we have our own building company,” says Andrea. The only thing she would have changed? “We’re expecting our first grandchild in November, so maybe more bedrooms!”
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