Shaker by the seaside – Leigh Ellwood’s dream minimalist beach house

A beach house is somewhere to relax, unwind and reconnect. Interior designer Leigh Ellwood’s Great Ocean Road abode is the ideal sanctuary to do just that.

Having purchased the 1980s home for its perched position above Victoria’s spectacular coastline, Leigh and her family initially planned to just ‘tweak’ a few elements, but the project quickly grew into a larger-scale renovation.

With captivating panoramic ocean views, inspiration for the renovation came from the minimal timber interiors of a seaside cabin on the Côte d’Azur, designed and owned by famed architect and designer, Le Corbusier.

The home has been designed as a truly functional space, complimented by a pared-back plywood palette that allows the house to recede into the background. A perfectly blank canvas that allows the natural world (and those views) to take centre stage.

Leigh Ellwood Beach House featuring Shaker fireplace

For its modest size, the home packs a punch. In the early morning light, the new plywood walls emit an ethereal glow. Elsewhere, decoration is deliberately minimal, except for the oyster paintings by 1998 Archibald Prize winner, Lewis Miller, painted directly onto the plywood living room walls.

An inclusion that adds both function and beauty to the home comes in the form of a Shaker fireplace. Installed here with a short bench, Shaker is a wood fireplace that is compact in size but big on impact – much like the beach house in which it now warms.

Photography by Nikole Ramsay for Design Files

Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Interior designer – Leigh Ellwood⁠

Builder – Alex Penfold⁠


Shaker’s unique look sits perfectly between rustic and contemporary, harking back to the heart-of-the-home stoves of old while incorporating strong lines and making a bold design statement. Compact in size but big on impact, Shaker also includes an optional bench in two different lengths to maximise enjoyment of your fire.

From $7,500.00

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