Silver Linings on est living

Words from est living


Attesting good design takes time, this Bayside home by Melbourne firm Rachcoff Vella is a study in material restraint and an unwavering commitment to the homeowner’s brief.

Silver Linings by Rachcoff Vella asserts itself in the dunes of Bayside Melbourne as an extension of the grass, sand and driftwood. Five years in the making, the Brutalist-style home was a rigorous undertaking, conceived through the decision to only use four to five raw and robust materials, to prioritise handcrafted design and at its essence, remain faithful to minimalist design principles. A lesson in patient, meticulous design detail, we spoke with Rachcoff Vella director Tony Vella on how this monumental family home’s resolute narrative extends to all aspects of the design – where nothing was left to chance.

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The homeowner’s minimalist pursuit is clear from just one glance at Rachcoff Vella’s Silver Linings project. Tony Vella says the minimalist architecture and interiors were to provide a consistent and calm backdrop for family life, and all the while, invite the bay views in. This governed the brief and the five-year journey of design discipline and constant revision that followed.

The project was a collaborative effort on all fronts, from start to finish. “Given the nature of the client brief, materials used, and challenges set, it was important to trust the process and team involved in procuring the build,” Tony Vella says. “Having the privilege of designing furniture, joinery and selecting all the interior objects, including art curation, meant the inhabitants had extreme levels of customization,” he adds.

Silver Linings has a central courtyard facing north that invites sunlight into its core. Passive design principles and intuitive technology permeate all aspects of the home, maximising cross ventilation and thermal mass through heavily insulated walls, floor and ceiling; a roof garden also adds another layer of insulation.

Spatially, the home needed to consider day-to-day family life now and into the future. There are spaces to come together with secluded pockets and contrasting qualities such as the lower level rumpus room and the light-doused living space upstairs opening up to a sea breeze. Away from these communal areas, there are private zones to escape to at each level of the home.


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Pertinent to Silver Linings’ story are the materials used. The home’s name is quite literal, with its exterior carved from concrete and silver-lined timber ceilings and walls greeting you from entry. “The controlled material palette of grey and silver lining boards, off-form concrete, brass fittings and white oak joinery reveal a surprisingly versatile outcome despite the various conditions within the building,” Tony says. These materials provoke feelings of warmth and cosiness in the darker spaces of the home but embrace the light-filled nature of the areas with front-row ocean views.

The kitchen was integral to achieving the utilitarian demands of family living. It’s in this space the materials are true to the design intent, strong enough to take on wear and tear – that will only add to the character of the space. “The client requested a functional but nevertheless beautiful space that could manage the very busy day to day operation of a family of six, two dogs and many visitors,” Tony maintains. He says designing the island bench and dining table as one was instrumental in bringing the family together while a hidden working pantry conceals clutter.

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Just like the materiality in the kitchen, appliances were selected for their quality and robustness that could age gracefully over time. “The appliances used were minimal and of a design quality and ethos that mimics the architectural design intent,” Tony says. Gaggenau appliances were a natural match, mirroring Rachcoff Vella’s approach to design. The Gaggenau ethos builds on scrupulous quality control, examined by a craftsman at every stage of production.

From the Gaggenau 200 series ovens to the 400 series Vario gas cooktop and gas wok, Vario steamer and Teppan Yaki, the Silver Linings kitchen is equipped for the serious home cook who values a premium cooking experience. True to the overall design scheme, the 400 series Vario refrigerator and freezer, as well as a 400 series dishwasher, are cleverly concealed within the American Oak joinery.

Tony finds the pursuit of seamless, robust design – where complex integration needed to appear as if invisible – one of the most satisfying outcomes of their Silver Linings project. “Pure beauty and delight were ultimately experienced in the raw, natural and handcrafted materials, objects and detailing,” he says. For Tony, endless detailing and supervision show the strength and success of collaboration at every level, culminating in a home custom-tailored to the family that lives there.

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Article By Est. Living

Architect: Rachcoff Vella Architecture
Builder: Koorool Constructions
Fabricator: European Window Co.
System: KELLER mininmal windows®
Supplier: Thermeco 
Photographer: Tatjana Plitt