A Gentle Home – Birch Tree House by Susi Leeton Architects and Interiors
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Photography Nicole England, Felix Mooneeram & Emily Ward
Words Hayley Curnow
Landscaping Columbo

With sweeping geometries and softly textured finishes, Birch Tree House crafts an uplifting canvas for family life, set amongst a restful garden.

“We were inspired by the work of Brancusi and the soft powdery finish of his marble sculptures,” reveals architect Susi Leeton, reflecting on the poetic dialogue of curved and tactile volumes that define Birch Tree House. Tasked with designing a family home that would feel gentle yet robust, Susi Leeton Architects and Interiors has moulded a meandering experience of the site, with curved and linear volumes overlapping and intersecting to form a series of workable and engaging family spaces.

Upon entry, a captivating ribbon-like stair gently unfurls upwards in an abstract study of soft contours and organic forms.

Entering through a pebbled forecourt lined with birch trees, the home’s sculpted sensibility is reflected in a dramatic arched entry threshold. The thoughtful composition of curved and rectilinear forms creates a striking silhouette and street presence, softened by tactile finishes. Pale textured render and a wide limed cedar door combine with bluestone crazy pavers and stepping stones, showing a reverence for the variegated textures and natural hues of the home’s namesake birch trees.

Upon entry, a captivating ribbon-like stair gently unfurls upwards in an abstract study of soft contours and organic forms. A refined lounge area is tucked behind, a quiet sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the rear family zones beyond. “Polished and curved plaster walls blur the spaces and create a shimmering effect,” says Susi. These gestures incite a sense of curiosity and movement, enhanced by deep view lines cast the length of the site, maximising scale and connectivity with the landscape.

The fine articulation of curved steel arches sit in sculptural dialogue with the home’s weighty masonry construction – a poetic contrast of material and mass.

“By analysing the typology of domestic living and family zones, we aimed to create a beautiful flow of space to enhance harmony, bringing family together,” explains Susi. Elemental forms, including an open fireplace, create subtle delineations in space while maintaining visibility and connection. Lounge, kitchen and dining zones are skilfully framed and intertwined, while full-height operable glazing extends the sense of space to the gardens, terraces and a beautiful oval-shaped pool beyond.

“The gardens and the interface between were of utmost importance in the design. Inside became outside,” she reflects.  Here, graceful arches laden with grapevines shade the northern windows and form a sheltered haven to delight in the elements. The fine articulation of curved steel arches sit in sculptural dialogue with the home’s weighty masonry construction – a poetic contrast of material and mass

Throughout, finishes are refined and tonal, maintaining a calm and cohesive sensibility. Natural limestone, limed oak floors, polished plaster walls and linen curtains form an understated palette, enlivened by an artistic curation of feature finishes, soft furnishings and artwork. “Pieces were selected for their sense of design and comfort. The beautiful cane dining chairs and bronze table allow views through to the pool,” says Susi.

The balance of form and finish has ensured light and landscape are ever-present. Underpinned by restraint and a consideration for the sensorial qualities of living, Birch Tree House presents a poetic, enduring and heartening proposition. “We’ve created casual and peaceful spaces,” muses Susi, “a background for happy family days.”

Published 28 June, 2021
Photography  Nicole England, Felix Mooneeram & Emily Ward
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