On the east end of Victoria’s surf coast at the gateway of the Great Ocean Road sits Project Felix by Leÿer. A timber cabin fit for the seashores of Torquay with inspiration sought from the “emergence of a timber cabin as a modern muse in Australian architecture”, this coastal family home was built by the owner-builders within a mere five-and-a-half months.
Designed and built by husband and wife duo Damien and Rebecca Leijer, this captivating coastal home resembling a timber cabin embraces the ocean air and ambiance to create the ultimate sanctuary for their family. With an accent on flowing lines, soothing curves and light timber features, located only 150 metres from Fisherman’s Beam and the picturesque coastline which traces the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, Project Felix is an accurate representation and abode of a loving, growing family.
“We decided to make a move back to Torquay from Melbourne for the benefit of our children, as growing up on the coast was the type of lifestyle we wanted to provide for them,” explain Damien and Rebecca. Meanwhile, Damien had received extended service leave to begin the build as he was the owner-builder and project manager, while Rebecca held the fort with their children and assisted in the interior design and styling along the way.
From inception to completion, both Damien and Rebecca collectively conceptualised the design and had a draftsman to draw plans, which helped cultivate the design. “There was a lot of involvement from Damien’s end regarding the truss design, and input into the engineering to achieve the raked ceiling we had in mind. From the outset, we also tested a lot of finishes; for instance, the grey washed western red cedar on the ceiling and walls to finalise the finishes we envisioned,” says Rebecca.
“We decided to make a move back to Torquay from Melbourne for the benefit of our children, as growing up on the coast was the type of lifestyle we wanted to provide for them.”
Ultimately, they wanted to evoke a feeling of comfort, relaxation, and a family foundation on the Victorian seashore. The sea air and coastal homes are known for their ability to embrace this emotion. Therefore, Damien and Rebecca chose to evoke this through the use of raw and earthy colour tones, while “inspiration was taken from the surrounds, if you look closely at the coastline in this region, the colours of the limestone cliffs and beaches in their different lights influenced the colour palette,” they say.
Drawing inspiration from homes in New Zealand and Scandinavia, “our well-selected furniture pieces all share a similar muted colour palette to the interior design choices we made, which were very intentional,” says Rebecca. The beautifully enunciated approach to the palette and materiality mimics an environment that feels equally soothing and inviting for all the family. This is expressed in their self-confessed favourite aspects of the home, such as their love for the terracotta brick splashback in the kitchen and obsession with the raked timber lined ceiling.
Timber features prominently throughout the Felix home for various reasons. “I believe timber has an unmatched aesthetic and softness,” says Damien. “The colours and patterns you get in the grain is something you cannot manufacture. I am always distracted by the patterns in the ceiling here.” Each element of the design was carefully selected to ensure they would improve with age and were sustainable for the future. This extends to the timber used throughout the project. Not only is it aesthetically mesmerizing, but the specified Accoya (a modified timber) cladding offers a more sustainable and durable solution.
With their philosophy grounded on mutual love of “minimal looks and efficient designs”, Rebecca and Damien also believe that achieving a lovely space and a successful outcome is based on the value in “merely refining your finishes with neat little details, not so much choosing expensive materials and textures,” explains Damien. For instance, the small shadow lines they created in the junction between the raked ceiling and the plaster bulkheads are “such a sharp and tiny detail that tightens everything up,” he further explains.
With only a short amount of time to build the home, and with Damien not working for an income throughout the build, the construction period while at the same time raising two children was quite a stressful time for the family. However, from the initiation to completion, they managed to undertake it within only five-and-a-half months, fulfilling their vision of a coastal dream home. “This is our family home, and we intend it to be our forever home – hopefully, one day it will be the place where the grandchildren would love to spend their time after the beach in the summer,” reflects Rebecca.