The Sleepover At Leeuwin Estate’s Witchcliffe House


Catherine and I were down south attending a site meeting. I asked Trish and Denis Horgan at Leeuwin Estate if I could visit Witchcliffe House. Catherine, who worked on the project with me, had seen photos but never had a chance to visit. Trish invited us to come and stay the night.

This was the first time I’ve ever slept over in a home I designed for a client. Ten years have passed and this visit was a chance to see how the home has matured.

The raw materials have performed really well, and there hasn’t been the need for a lot of maintenance. That’s really important to me. When I pick materials I want to know that they will last and be there for the long haul and that they don’t damage easily. The materials have suited this busy family home.

We had a beautiful meal, fantastic wine, a lovely evening in a warm family environment. It was amazing to be in a space I had designed for someone else and get a close up feel for what it was like to be living in it. I could experience the space and think “this is working really well”. This is still my favourite project.

The house is raised with very big openings that look out across the Karri trees. It’s fantastic to look at it now with the mature landscaping around it. I designed it to sit in the trees, and now as the garden has grown up it really does.


We slept really well. A lot of the house is rammed limestone, a very calming material that absorbs sound and feels serene. It gives off a feeling of having been there for a long time, an ancient and solid medium. We did a lot of acoustic treatments with this project and it was good to hear that they all work. The long curved wall is even called “The Whispering Wall” for it’s playful acoustics.

We got to see it in the evening and then in the morning light when we woke up.

Trish and Denis were very caring. They love the house and they still say great things to people about it. The thing that I didn’t understand before I worked in residential architecture is if you trust the client and they trust you, it’s a shared relationship. In the end you become friends.

I am so proud of this project. I am so grateful to Catherine for her fine contribution. Our work together is about people, places and connection. We just love it.

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