Libby’s Retreat

Located in the Peel region of Western Australia an hour and half drive south of Perth.  Libby’s Retreat in Meelon sits on the edge of the Darling Ranges with distant views to the Peel Estuary to the west and wide-open views to the north.  This single-level holiday house was designed for Libby and Geoff, their 6 adult children and a growing brood of grandchildren.  The large property was purchased also with the intent of raising cattle. Originally from New Zealand, Libby found the view here not dissimilar to the ones she left behind and missed – hence there was a desire to embrace the outlook to the ranges as well as over the paddocks and rolling hills and estuary beyond. 

While the views are impressive, architect Suzie Hunt and her team at Suzanne Hunt Architect (SHA) were also conscious of the possible risk of bushfires – only three days before Suzie inspected the site for the first time, a major bushfire came through this area. Given the region is prone to bushfires, the construction materials selected were robust and fireproof – rammed limestone, beautiful granite and bluestone rock sourced from the site, BlueScope Colourbond roofing and aluminium frames for the doors and windows. The rammed earth and stone walls are also thoughtfully woven into the interiors and expressed in part as feature walls. 

Libby’s Retreat is a holiday house for a large, blended, multi-generational family.  The house is delineated by three pods running on the long axis east-west capturing the northern light in every room. The double garage and a workshop with a secondary access in case of fire is located to the south-west.   

The two-bedroom pods are located at either end of the central living pod.  The pod to the west accommodates two guest bedrooms, a shared bathroom and the main bedroom suite with views over the valley.   The generous main ensuite with a freestanding bath, is framed by large sliding glass doors that fully retract to create a sense of bathing outdoors. An outdoor shower on this terrace allows for the full outdoor experience.  A small sitting area internally and a private deck externally along with a fridge in the walk-in-robe offers ‘time out’ for the grandparents when needed.

The second bedroom pod is located to the east and provides a separate wing for the children and grandchildren including a double bedroom, bunk room, bathroom, and relaxed kids TV living area with a small kitchenette. The small living area with large window seat opens on to a protected courtyard for the younger grandchildren to play in.  Having a separate entrance to this ‘pod’ allows for a level of independence. 

At the core of the house is the central living pod where the entire family can congregate around a massive wood fire in the large open plan kitchen, dining and lounge area.  A large basement below houses the underfloor reverse cycle air-conditioning and large games den for young and old.

Given the outdoor areas were as pivotal to the design as the interior spaces, they have been as carefully articulated considering the weather on this exposed site – prevailing winds, driving rain, path of the sun and the views. Orientated to the north of the living area the overhanging roof floats over the paved area allowing for covered alfresco dining.  A servery from the kitchen (orientated to the north-east) connects to another terrace that blurs the indoors to the undulating landscape providing a protected eating area in summer.

Libby’s Retreat was a very special project for both Libby and Geoff and their families.  Libby was the driving force behind the project and saw it as her legacy to her family, sadly passing away a couple of months before the project was completed from cancer.  A wonderful spiritual woman she will always hold a very special place in the hearts of all of us that worked on this project.

Vale Libby.

Consultant Team

Architect + Interior Design | Suzanne Hunt Architect

Land Surveyor | Vision Surveys

Quantity Surveyor | HW Associates

Landscape Design | Client

Structural Engineer |Dryka

Mechanical Engineer I SG&K

Electrical Engineer I E Consulting Engineers

Hydraulic Engineer I CHD

Building Certifier I MSA

Energy Efficiency Consultant I Smith Architecture

Bush Fire Management | RUIC Fire

Builder & Main Suppliers

Builder | McLeish & Matthews

Rammed Earth | Perth Stabilised Earth

Stone | K & D Keally

Aluminium Doors and Windows I Westec

Lighting I Sii Light

Timber I Austim

Project Photo & Video Credits

Photographer | Solutions Plus Externals & Rob Frith

Stylist | KT Crocker

Video | Ross Tinney RT Films

Text | Stephen Crafti