A place beyond the dunes | InForm
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A place beyond the dunes

  • Photography: Timothy Kaye
  • Text: Lucinda McKimm
Set amongst the sand dunes adjacent to national parkland in Blairgowrie some 600 metres beyond the roaring swell of the ocean lies Montfort House.

“The thing that drew me to this land was a craving to be close to Montfort Beach, where I’d done a lot of surfing in the past,” says the recently retired founding director of InForm, Chris McKimm. His love for this land knows no bounds; an enduring love affair that can be traced back to his teenage years. “My introduction to Montfort Beach came about 50 years ago when it was an unknown surf break and I remember the very first day a friend and I walked down there and we saw these incredible waves,” Chris recalls, with warm nostalgia.

“We spent the whole day down there coming in and out of the surf, and that started a lifelong love of that beach for me.” It would be quite surreal then, for the Chris of all of those years ago to imagine his reality today: waking up and looking out to the undulating sandy paths that once led him to that magical surf break.

“Ultimately, we wanted to create a home that really blended in with the environment because that is what is most special about this location,” Chris says. The term ‘special’ doesn’t quite capture the impact this environment has on those lucky enough to experience it. To my right, winter sun streams through the full-height glass framing the intense hues of the orange sunrise just hours earlier.

To my left, the pool quietly glistens in the foreground. Beyond it, lofty sand dunes and the colours of the environment fill the view: silvers, greens, yellows, and blues. At its core, the design works as a viewing platform from which to observe and appreciate nature. On still days, the pavilion-like structure opens up to embrace the weather and the landscape. When the weather calls for staying indoors, the interior provides a warm sanctuary to witness the outside world.

“There were two major items with regard to the brief,” Chris says. “One was the views to the south, but the other challenge was the winter sun to the north.” Further to that, Chris and his wife Andrea knew that the way the house would be occupied by guests and family would swell and shrink dramatically. “Andrea and I knew that we would be living in the house a lot by ourselves, but we also knew that with four kids and five grandchildren, we were going to be inundated with a lot of people at times,” he says.

Intelligent planning and zoning was therefore key, allowing the home to be warm and cosy for small groups and big and inviting when numbers grow during weekends and holiday seasons. Thus, the space is able to behave as a luxury one bedroom home most of the time so as to reduce maintenance and energy usage while maximising comfort.

At such an exposed site, flexibility was also important. Outdoor entertaining areas feature on both sides of the house to provide options depending on weather conditions. The layout of the house seeks to maximise its superb position and spectacular outlooks, with the main living zone enjoying both sunrise and sunset views. “The garden was designed by Jack Merlo, who had a very good understanding of the site, and he designed the pool in such a way that it is set down just a little bit,” Chris explains.

“This not only allows us to look over the pool to the incredible views, but it also makes the area immediately private from the neighbouring property to the west.” That pool area is where you’ll often find the home’s inhabitants ending their day. As the sun begins its descent beyond the dunes, the spa begins to warm. Submerging into the water, looking up to the open, starry sky and the colours that paint it, it’s difficult to imagine that there is anyone else out there. For a moment, it’s just you, the stars, the sounds, and the sunset.

A true sanctuary that celebrates the superb coastline just beyond, Montfort House is a place that is hard to capture in words and in photos. Rather, it’s a place to be felt and to be witnessed.

“We spent the whole day down there coming in and out of the surf; that started a lifelong love of that beach for me.”

Chris McKimm