Green Shutters Help to Transform an Old Post Office into a Beach House
Originally a tired post-office, it was converted into a home. However the rooms were boxy, windows had high-sills, it was very closed off to the outside which must have been frustrating given the location. Located in the coastal town of Breamlea, a hour-twenty drive south-west from Melbourne, the house sits between wetlands and the beach with dunes. “Their house is located between a serene native wetlands national park and a rugged surf beach - but you wouldn't know it from the inside.” Fooi Ling-Khoo, director of OOF! architecture says, “The house had so little connection with the outdoors it could have been anywhere!” This was the goal of the project, to transform the old post office into an open, airy beach house that actually connected with the beautiful surroundings. With a tight budget though, there needed to be a focus. “We had to think really hard about how our client could get the most bang for their buck so we focused on what bugged them most about the house.” says Fooi.
Simple changes were made, all with the intention of opening to the great outdoors. Some internal walls were removed to open up the internal space, along with the kitchen being configured drastically. MAXIplywood provides a soft textured contrast to the freshly painted white. A small existing entry was demolished, and now the clients can actually park their car in the carport. And it’s the demolition phase during renovations which excite Fooi, “This is often one of my favourite parts of construction anyway but even more so here as you could feel the difference the renos would make as each wall came down.” Looking at the before and after floorplans (below), I can see just how substantial those little changes would be.
Those high-sill windows were removed and replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows. In fact, pretty much that whole wall at the front of the house was turned into windows to open the house to the views out north-west. In order to protect from that sun, particularly the summer sun, wooden shutters were installed. While the shutters make perfect sense, the clients were a bit skeptical at the beginning. “They were very dubious actually and had to make a leap of faith in the end.” says Fooi, and thankfully the clients love them. The shutters were kind-of designed from the inside-out, focusing on the views from the living and dining. “The shutters are all about being on the inside looking out - how the views are framed, how the light is filtered, how the variegated green of the shutter frames sit against the landscape of the wetlands.” And the shapes weren’t just decided out of nowhere, OOF! architecture explored many configurations, including the conventional french door style but the triangles made sense in the end. “They allow the top or bottom part of the window to be screened from sun while always keeping key parts of view open.” Fooi explains. They also provide a bit of privacy for the occupants inside, given they are so different and green, those passing by would be too distracted and focused on the shutters that they won’t even think about what lies inside.
With just a few small changes, a paired-back material palette and some colourful shutters, this old post office now definitely lives up to the title of a beach house.
Green Shutter House is a finalist in the ArchiTeam 2018 Awards for Residential Alterations and Additions. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 14 November 2018 at 5 Easey Upstairs, 5 Easey Street, Collingwood. See ArchiTeam for more information.