When consulting with his clients about the kind of home they wanted, Melbourne-based architect Michael Leeton of Leeton Pointon Architects and Interiors was given a pleasingly open brief. ‘The owners are a busy couple with three kids,’ he explains. ‘So other than it needing to be a functioning family home, they just said, “see what you come up with”.’
What Michael gave them is a spectacular creation in concrete and glass, full of curves and projections that play elegantly with a balance between solid structure and perceived weightlessness. The two-storey, 864-square-metre Canopy House, as it’s known, is situated on a quiet residential street in a leafy suburb of Melbourne. Both the building’s external and internal contours take their cues from the tree-lined street on which the property sits. Having knocked down an existing 1980s brick house to make way for his vision, Michael’s aim was, he says, ‘to make sure that this new home would connect to the street and give something back’.
As an architectural creation, it’s full of surprises, from the sweeping driveway and spectacular flying saucer-like form hovering above the entrance to a vast glass front door. Inside, what might’ve been a cold, contemporary space is, in Michael’s hands, full of warmth and wonder. The ground floor, rather than one large open-plan space, is instead a series of zoned volumes: a minimalist kitchen and dining area, a study, casual family room and a more formal living room.
At the centre of it all is a sculptural staircase that, as it ascends to the first floor, gracefully divides: to one side, the parents’ wing; to the other, the children’s. From almost every angle, though, one’s eye is drawn outside, to views of the elliptical pool and lush garden.
‘The walls are so big, we didn’t want it to feel like this was some heavy block,’ explains Michael, ‘so we created thresholds that offer a sense of journey and discovery.’ It’s his use of materials, though, that gives this property its joyous personality. From the oak floorboards – also used on walls, ceilings and built-in benches – that help to dampen acoustics, to the chalky polished plaster, softened by linen curtains, they lend this space a sense of serenity.
The interiors, led by Michael’s long-time collaborator Allison Pye, are elegant yet practical. Little touches of whimsy in furniture or lighting remind us there are teenagers in the house, while colour is neatly edited, too: deep-blue Bart Schilder sofas in one of the living areas and paintings by Sydney artist Jonny Niesche in another. ‘I think this place has nuance and subtlety,’ concludes Michael. ‘A house that’s tactile and will age well is always key.’ leetonpointon.com
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2020
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