The decorations are up and the kids excited to spend Christmas in their mid-century inspired home
To say the least, this was an ambitious project – a couple with three young children deciding to tackle their vision of designing and building every corner of their home. And so it was that Megan and Mike Fishwick crafted their mid-century-inspired sanctuary on the fringe of a coastal town.
The result? High among the trees on a pristine plot of bushland, this new home is testament to the pair’s unwavering vision and tenacity. Soulful and serene yet family focused, the elevated house is defined by a sense of tranquillity and a seamless connection to nature.
Megan, a former model born and raised in California, and Mike, a design manager in the fashion industry, fell in love with their local area long ago. “We’ve lived in the area for 12 years,” she explains. “We renovated our last house ourselves and had all of our girls there. In 2017, just as we were outgrowing it, we found this block of land.”
The somewhat secret and undeniably special pocket of land was undoubtedly ‘the one’. “There are native trees all around as it’s hidden in a reserve,” says Megan. “You’ve got this beautiful feeling of nature, privacy and space yet it’s only five minutes’ drive from the town. There’s also a wonderful little community here.”
Embarking on their life-changing journey within the constraints of a relatively tight budget, the family of five – including three daughters now aged three to 10 – lived in a caravan off site for eight months. “Looking back, we wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was fun,” says Megan with a laugh. “There was less to clean and I cooked easy meals for us. We were all together and I’m very much a fan of the simple life.”
Through it all, she and Mike never lost sight of their goal. “We have always wanted to design our own home and make it a creative space to live in. Doing so was a very collaborative process,” says Megan. They also knew that their new home would pay loving respect to their shared appreciation of iconic modernist architecture. “We love the fact that everything from the mid-century design era has a purpose,” says Megan. “The simplicity of those houses speaks to us. For me, it’s also an emotional directive as my family has lived in Southern Californian homes like this.”
Within the walls, the instant impact of organic timber lends warmth and texture to the understated base palette. “I love the blackwood we’ve used throughout,” says Megan. “It’s so moody, and the effect is almost like living in the bush.” Other key features are the sandstone rock walls (one in the entry, another at the gate) and a roughly hewn seat in the living room. The family’s stonemason friend Paul Squires has achieved a fantastic result.
Though perhaps the home’s greatest success lies in the fact that its considered design, by Mike and Megan, allows light to flood the rooms, with the house opening seamlessly to its natural surroundings.
“We’re so proud of how well Mike has done,” says Megan. “He was on the tools the entire time, from sunrise to sunset. The only person he consulted with during the planning process was an engineer – and anything he didn’t have to contract out, he did himself. Mike also read a lot of books on how these homes are built, and his father is a builder so he would give us his opinion, while I handled the financial side.”
Not surprisingly, there were occasional and not insignificant bumps on the journey. “One corner of the swimming pool – which sits in front of the house, soaking up the slope – was slightly over the building envelope,” says Megan. “Mike had to dump about $6500 worth of concrete and redo the steelwork, which was upsetting. Then there was a huge storm one night and the ceiling started to warp and bow a little. That had to be fixed with 2000 screws and resealed. It has certainly been a process but now we’re beginning to make memories.”
The home’s bush setting is certainly helping. Much to the family’s delight, there’s wildlife aplenty – with the girls often exclaiming about catching sight of creatures visiting their backyard at breakfast time.
“It’s just magic,” says Megan.
With the family excited about their first Christmas in the house, most of the trimmings are already in place.
“I always decorate; we buy and put up a tree, and the girls like to make something special for their rooms,” says Megan. “But Christmas for us is really just a day at the beach with friends and family. We set up our spot on the sand and the kids open their presents, then we hang out there for hours, playing games and eating. It’s low-key, relaxed and natural.”
Words by: Jackie Brygel Photography: Jessie Prince Styling: Sarah Ellison