Magical is the best way we can describe one of KWD’s latest projects. A totally unique property, this very special space is the latest tiny house accommodation to launch in Victoria. And the journey that led owners Paul and Michelle Rowse to create ‘Larnook’ is a fascinating tale of the circle of life, and how fate can lead you on a path that you can’t always envisage.

When founders and owners of Larnook – Paul and Michelle Rowse – were first married, they moved into a caravan that Paul had been living in for nine years on his family farm. They lived in it together for another four years, until their first daughter was six months old, before moving into the homestead they had been building on their family farm – bringing to an end their first experience with living in a tiny home.

Then around ten years ago, Paul and his brother-in-law started sharing ideas about tiny houses and how intriguing the clever designs were in terms of how considered the space planning had to be. Explains Paul, “We had been living in our family home on the farm for 30 years, so once our daughters had left home we decided to downsize. In 2017 we sold our property and were lucky enough to have the opportunity to take a year off and travel around Australia with a four wheel drive and an off-road van.” Adds Michelle, “This gave us the chance to experience living in a small, well designed space ourselves for a long period and to enjoy a more simple way of life. It gave us the time to ascertain what was really important in a small living space.”

It was the perfect setting for the research and development required to start formulating their own tiny house concept. Having been farmers for most of their lives, Paul and Michelle decided it was time to forge a new life that would focus on building a future that brought together all of their experiences into one entity. The time travelling around Australia meant they made fascinating friends who inspired them to take the leap, and to develop their own form of tiny home accommodation that could provide a beautiful experience for guests in an off grid format.

As their 12 months away drew to an end and they were planning their return to Victoria, Paul and Michelle decided to choose a coastal home rather than Warragul where they had farmed for so many years. The Mornington Peninsula was the destination they both agreed on, and where the concept of Larnook came to life.

Rather than buying land and building some accommodation, they developed the idea of creating a luxurious tiny home that could be placed in beautiful locations on other people’s property. Completely self-sufficient and off grid, the accommodation could be easily transported to stunning sites where guests could enjoy incredible views and total privacy away from any other homes – on coastal properties or hilltop farms.

They began to develop this idea of a shared economy and soft footprint, and stayed in a wide array of tiny house accommodation to further expand their research into the idea. This gave them a chance to investigate what would work in with their concept, and what they thought they could add to make it a unique experience for guests. Paul’s love of the industrial look meant that a shipping container would be the perfect shell for the accommodation, and melding two containers together would provide the ideal amount of space required for a self-contained property complete with a bedroom, living area, kitchenette and bathroom.

And so Larnook was born. The name Larnook is derived from Aboriginal culture – a term from the Bunurong tribe that means habitation or nest. Paul and Michelle really wanted to pay homage to the rich history of the Bunurong landscape and felt the name epitomises what they want to achieve for their guests.

Once the concept was formulated, it was time to create the design and this is where Kate Walker and KWD came into the picture. “I was introduced to Kate and her team by a friend. We talked about what we wanted to create and immediately felt that she understood our vision and could really help us bring it to life. We knew what we wanted to create and that we were targeting a high end finish that would differentiate us in the marketplace, but we were unsure of where to start. The design expertise she brought to the table was incredible and she introduced us to finishes and a colour palette that we fell in love with.”

Explains Kate Walker, “When we first met Paul and Michelle we fell in love with the concept for a variety of reasons. The idea of a tiny house with luxurious accommodation set amongst mother nature really inspired the design team. The whole premise we ran with had to emulate the name and create a nest where guests could cocoon in comfort. In order to create an organic feeling we avoided anything white, hence the cork wallpaper on the ceiling and hexagonal cork tiles on the walls. The cork aids with sound absorption and it’s also a sustainable material. We loved referencing mother nature through the bee-hive honeycomb shaping of the cork tiles and the bathroom tiles.”

The concrete basin and the brass taps all add to the soft, subtle connection to the earth. Even the stone has a textured undulation. Every finish and material is tactile, including the natural linen bed linen. The design really speaks to KWD’s philosophy that you don’t need a big space to make a house a home. The Larnook design shows that you can pack a lot of punch in a small space to make the design entrancing, and add elements that lift it to a whole new level.

The ambient lighting, the gas fireplace, the full window near the bed to take in the view and lots of glazing to connect the inside to outside make this space so successful. We are very proud of what we have helped Paul and Michelle to create and we know that any guests staying in Larnook will love every single element and enjoy every moment.”

The bold, strong and striking industrial feel of the outside of the container, which is painted black, is softened with the interior’s clean lines, luxurious textures and soft, earthy tones. The gas log fireplace has year round appeal, providing a soothing warmth when the temperature drops and offering an appealing visual to add to the atmosphere in the warmer months.

The accommodation extends into the outdoors with a timber decking complete with outdoor chairs, all screened off with potted plants for extra privacy. The stylish outdoor shower is ideal for bathing and for cooling off when the temperature heats up, and you even have your own fireplace to add to the ambience and so you can enjoy your surrounds throughout the year.

The self-sufficient site means that water is supplied by water tanks, and LPG gas and solar provide the power for lighting, cooking and hot water. The solar panels have been incorporated into the structure to create a striking feature with two wings that sit on top of the container that can be angled to face the sun no matter the location. Ergonomic elements have been added to the structure for weather protection and harnessing of the natural elements like creating airspace between the walls and the roof to keep the space cool and incorporating louvred windows for airflow.

The large windows and sliding glass doors bring the view in from every possible angle and make the space as one with the location. The kitchenette comes complete with a decent size fridge so you can bring your supplies for the duration of your stay, and there’s a four burner cooktop, sink and all the utensils you need to whip up delicious meals without having to leave your hilltop sanctuary. Or you can cook on the BBQ, order in or venture out and enjoy one of the fabulous nearby cafes or restaurants.

Now let’s talk location. The first site for Larnook is set in one of the most breathtaking parts of Victoria, and only just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Nestled in the Yarra Ranges, a gravelled driveway leads from the road to the Larnook site where you will enjoy the most spectacular view. Regardless of the elements, this spot is equally beautiful when bathed in sunshine and stars or mist and rain – every moment is magical.

Adds Paul, “Guests booking into Larnook can expect a beautiful five star accommodation experience in a unique and private setting. A memorable, luxurious experience in the beauty of mother nature where you can unwind, relax, recuperate and rejuvenate in total privacy.

Larnook@Sherbooke is officially open for bookings from December 1st.

Photography: @mandycouzens


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