The small house with a tiny budget that makes a big impact

COLOUR POP: Brightly coloured box gutters separate the building's three forms, lime green wraparound fascias frame the gable ends and windows are staggered in height.
COLOUR POP: Brightly coloured box gutters separate the building's three forms, lime green wraparound fascias frame the gable ends and windows are staggered in height.

Keen to build a vibrant, compact and affordable home in the Victorian coastal town of Point Lonsdale, a young family engaged Nine Muses Design to help bring their vision to life, which has resulted in a house that's the epitome of fun.

Fittingly named the FUN House, it's home to Emma and Louis Royer, their two energetic young sons and beloved dog, Pip. With creative backgrounds in furniture design and videography, this was never going to be an ordinary house.

The brief was for a budget conscious, sustainable, creative and fun family home that felt modern and spacious, despite the constraints. "They're both creative people so were really engaged in the process," says architect, Jane Macrae.

"They didn't want a normal house, and were incredibly keen and willing to make their home a true reflection of their creative and colourful styles.

"They're a beautiful and connected family too, so were keen to keep the footprint down and to really make the spaces compact and multipurpose."

FREE FORM: The house was designed by Nine Muses Design, and is a true reflection of the owner's creative and colourful styles. Photos by Matthew Gudykunst.

FREE FORM: The house was designed by Nine Muses Design, and is a true reflection of the owner's creative and colourful styles. Photos by Matthew Gudykunst.

According to Jane, Pink's song House of Fun provided the soundtrack for this gift of a project. "Its not often that clients can't be challenged enough," she says. "The budget, site constraints, clients' design acumen and their trust gave birth to a fun, collaborative and creative process. The result really reflects this and designing it never felt like it work. It was so much fun!"

The site is located at the rear in a suburban subdivision, with the northerly aspect facing to the street. The challenge was to maximise all solar gains and the garden area on a small site, successfully overcome thanks to the three pavilions that tightly hug the rear and side boundaries with minimal setbacks.

While the budget, compact site, orientation and location proved to be the key challenges, they also turned out to be blessings.

The house literally turns its back on the idea of a backyard. Instead, it embraces a sun-drenched front yard with easy access from the living areas, while the rear location ensures it's private and secluded.

When I visit the doors are open, the house is warm and full of light, the boys are running, playing and using every available space and Pip is curled up in a sunny spot. The house is doing its job.

The design also abandons the traditional concept of allocating space and budget to a carport or garage. Instead, the family utilise their allocated off-street car space.

"Once we had settled on the best footprint for spatial and solar benefits, we then had fun carving out character moments to reflect both Emma and Louis," says Jane.

It's fair to say the formal plan was shaken and stirred. An angled piece was sliced out of the central living area to create an expanse of glass facing true north.

Brightly coloured box gutters separate the three forms, lime green wraparound fascias frame the gable ends, windows are staggered in height, internal walls are at angles and a circular window provides a vista from their working kitchen to the front door.

Although the footprint is small, all ceiling heights are over three metres, which helps make the house feel more spacious.

"When I visit the doors are open, the house is warm and full of light, the boys are running, playing and using every available space and Pip is curled up in a sunny spot. The house is doing its job," says Jane.

The FUN House: Published with BowerBird.

The FUN House: Published with BowerBird.