Split Personality

Rescued and restored this meeniyan home has a dual personality – part period cottage part uber modern abode. 

On first glance the Meeniyan home of Lindsay and Robyn Moore reflects a gentile time ‘gone by’ the original cottage presenting a traditional face in the landscape. Travel down the driveway and you see the home’s ultra modern extension giving the home its split personality.

Not only is the home unique but the whole project takes on a different slant when you learn that it was a complete family affair with the couple’s daughter Andrea Moore doing the bulk of the design, research and planning work.

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The property of about 11 acres is just a minute or so south of Meeniyan. The original four room cottage was moved from Leongatha to Meeniyan about three decades ago. When Robyn and Lindsay bought it, initially as an investment, it was in a sad state – concealed by overgrown trees and shrubs. But they could see the potential and that they could work with the cottage’s solid foundations.
The original cottage displays the typical design features of the era, with wide sweeping verandas all around, high internal ceilings and a wide corridor that is the spine to the main rooms. This part of the cottage is as Lindsay described it the “dormitory.” There are three bedrooms and an elegant study with a fireplace with a box window extended to create the ultimate space for Lindsay’s desk. “There are good aspects to the old place. Particularly as a dormitory as it is separate to the extension and it is comfortable with the verandas.”
At the end of a corridor of the cottage the home transforms. You take one step down from old to new and the main living room opens up brilliantly with large picture windows to frame the view over the rolling countryside.

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Everything about the extension is a contrast to the original cottage. Instead of timber sash windows there are state of the art wall to ceiling, double glazed windows, inserted with equally high flywire screens that double to filter the sunlight beaming into the open plan room. From classic French doors that open to the verandah on the cottage, the extension has walls devoted to sliding glass opening to the ultra-modern pebbled courtyard. “The fly screens are almost like a third layer, they cut down the amount of sun in summer. They serve more than one purpose.”
One of the pleasant aspects to the new extension is the amount of natural light that floods in. There is no need to have lights on in the day, and cleverly placed skylights light up the laundry and utility rooms. Dual aspect windows show off the big horizon views.
“I often come out here (into the living room) in the evening. You can see the stars and the moon in plain view. When all the lights are off the stars are amazing,” said Robyn.
A main feature of the design is the central courtyard that is accessed from the hallway, and the main living room. The courtyard is a winter sun trap and also provides shelter from the winds that can whistle in from the South. At the centre of the courtyard is a large white magnolia tree. A substantial outdoor entertaining area features an impressive built-in barbecue and also the unique timber panels that can be lifted to provide shelter.
Andrea’s subtle Japanese and Scandinavian influences are peppered throughout the home and are most evident in the main bathroom. At first you feel as if you are stepping into a Japanese bath house. The floor to ceiling window shows a view to a tranquil garden scene. The glass wall can be opened to the elements so it is beautiful on a hot summer’s night.

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The extensive use of blue stone on the floors and the walls gives the room a solid footing, while the rectangular concrete bath is a simple and austere statement. A timber slatted bench makes you feel as if you have stepped into a sauna room in Finland.
The couple had planned to build a contemporary home and the opportunity to collaborate with their daughter and use the best bits of the cottage came to fruition.
“We had been thinking of building a modern house. My father was a builder and I always wanted to build a house and we decided that it would be now or never. And the cottage just had a nice feel about it.
“We were influenced by our daughter. She has studied interior architecture and design. She was keen and we were confident in her ability and she came up with the design and the overall concept.”
Andrea Moore currently works in Melbourne as a stylist and designer and undertook the task of researching, planning and designing her parent’s extension. For Robyn and Lindsay it was a delight to have their daughter create their home. “One of the great pleasures is that it has been a bit of a family affair.”
The extension took two years to build and a year before that in planning and researching. “The house is where it was but it is in a good position. It was a case then of how you use what you’ve got and get the best out of it,” said Lindsay. “I really enjoyed the process, even though there were some problems. We were pushing the boundaries with some things.”
Designed to be easily managed inside and out, the outside spaces mirror the minimalist themes of the interior. There is minimal garden with blankets of lawn surrounding the house and a small orchard and plantings of gums.
“It is very easy to live in and everything works well and we use every part of the house,” said Robyn. “At our age you tend to know what you want and what will stay the distance. It is very easy to live in.”