On first look, we weren’t sure how the Humble House got its name. To start with, it cuts a striking figure against the landscape, with its sharp geometric shape and rich timber panelling. And its conceptual approach is certainly standout in the relaxed coastal vibes of Victoria’s coastal town Barwon Heads. But look behind this facade and the home’s relaxed liveability shines through, as Coy Yiontis Architects’ effortless design explores what it means to be ‘humble’ in modern times.
Designed for an older couple who travel frequently, the design needed to emphasise accessibility and ease of maintenance without comprising aesthetic or form. It also needed to cater not only for the primary residents, but their regular family visitors taking advantage of the coastal location. With the residents front of mind, their preferences and rituals have been thoughtfully addressed in the design – resulting in a description that yes, very much lives up to the ‘humble’ namesake.
The building’s long, tall form is a response to the increased size of neighbouring properties – rather than competing for size, its design creates privacy and space along a single level that spans the western boundary of the sloped site. This form also embraces the morning sun with bedrooms orientated to the east, and the main living space extending out from the central structure with full height glazed doors opening to the north and south courtyards or simply taking in the views.
This thoughtfulness towards the client’s habits and daily pleasures continue to add charm and build the sense of ease throughout the home. There’s no steps in the home – the interior reaches out to the exterior seamlessly and the terraced garden at the rear is gently sloped to provide easy garden maintenance and an ideal vegetable spot. Many of the private spaces are flexibly designed and can be used as studies or bedrooms as visitors come and go, while state-of-the-art technology provides easy management for the heating, blinds and other daily mod-cons. And even the smallest touches – a bench near the front door to remove your dirty boots, an outdoor shower to wash off the beach, a hatch in the garage that provides a shortcut to the pantry for dropping groceries – everything has been considered and designed with the individuals’ daily lives in mind.
The emphasis on daily rituals throughout the design truly evokes a ‘humble’ feeling – instead of concentrating on aesthetic, trend or statement, this home is designed squarely for its inhabitants lifestyles and priorities. Celebrating family, entertaining and simple living it’s a humble home, but one that achieves a lot without making a show of it.
Despite the contemporary design of the home, the spaces have been carefully personalised with furniture and objects gathered over a lifetime, like the striking antique grandfather clock in the living room.
The building’s long form maximises natural light and heating opportunities, with bedrooms facing the morning sun of the east and living spaces and outdoor entertaining areas oriented towards the north.
Classic, dependable materials and timeless pieces build a base to enhance with personal artefacts.