A safe haven from the frantic pace of modern life has popped up in the Australian town of Balnarring. Melbourne-based Branch Studio Architects designed this lovely modern studio and retreat with a deliberately low-tech aesthetic that emphasizes connection with the outdoors. The simple yet chic home is extremely flexible and can adapt to a seemingly limitless number of uses.



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The client prioritized flexibility early on in the design process, requiring “a space that could be nothing one minute and everything the next, required to regularly and effortlessly switch between an empty nondescript shell of limitless possibilities to a fully functioning private residence.” Thus the Balnarring Retreat features a large open-plan space where furniture, such as the Murphy bed and desk, are built into the walls and can be folded down when needed. Storage is also hidden away in the walls to minimize clutter. The custom furnishings are made to be folded and unfolded by hand to promote mindfulness.

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The Balnarring Retreat also houses a kitchen, a study, and a bathroom. The north wall is fully glazed to let in natural light and frame views of the pond. The space immediately in front of the glazed north wall is a sunken ‘day bed’ that can be filled in with plywood boxes when extra floorspace is needed.

+ Branch Studio Architects

Images by Peter Clarke