A Designer’s Warm Modernist Treehouse Rental

With its perched position immersed in the native landscape of Melbourne’s north east, the home of Sarah Shinners, creative director of interior design practice Without Studio, feels like a treehouse.

Sarah has lived in the circa 1970s home (nicknamed Monty’s House) in Montmorency with her husband Patrick and son Sullivan (3) for the past two years.

The house remains in near original condition today complete with timber-lined walls and ceilings, a modest kitchen, and window wall (a feature championed by Australia’s most famous mid-century architect, Robin Boyd) that spans the rear of the house.

‘There’s nothing pretentious about this building; in fact, it is somewhat basic and simple in its design, but it has everything we need (with the exception of a dishwasher if you honestly asked Pat!)’ says Sarah.

The home is a rental property, but true to Sarah’s work as a designer and history transforming temporary residences (see her previous Hilton Street home here!), the space feels inherently ‘her.’

When moving into the home, Sarah and Patrick inherited a palette of warm neutral walls (Dulux Ecru Quarter), sandy brown accents (Dulux Osso Bucco), and pistachio highlights (Dulux Eaves).

They decided to not only retain this colour scheme, but enhance it, through the selection of complementary furniture, art, and rugs.

‘In the way that Hilton Street was a great case study in wall paint and colour, this house was a great case study in decoration to help zone a more open floor plan and bring additional colour and pattern through furniture, art, and object,’ says Sarah.

‘It actually brought out the colour and the strength of the existing palette, rather than fighting against it or feeling outdated.’

Hardware and curtains were replaced, before Sarah turned her attention to the lighting scheme, designed to capture views of the outdoors during the day, and create an enveloping warm glow at night.

‘Minimal architectural lighting meant leaning heavily on decorative lamps, which brought the focus inward in the evening — a welcome contrast to the expansive outlook enjoyed throughout the day,’ she explains.

Sarah hopes the updated home is a reflection of her gentle, warm, relaxed family, as well as the projects she creates at Without Studio.

‘We’d like to see our own homes as an homage to the Without Studio approach, and hopefully one that shows the strength of cherry picking key investment pieces, and grounding them with humble or found items,’ Sarah says.

‘We strive to create spaces that are without ego or pretentiousness, that carry through the personality of its occupants, and that balance the line of calm and play.

‘We think that Monty’s House shows that in its truest sense.’

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