A crisp palette of stone and concrete forms an organic canvas for this striking riverside home in East Fremantle that mimics an island feel while appearing to float on the water.

Architect Rachel Feldhusen of wrightfeldhusen opted for a palette of natural textures and raw materials, the better to showcase the treasured collections and achieve interconnectivity between the residence and the Swan River.

“The couple, who are heading into retirement, were inspired by their travels and years spent living in Vietnam,” Rachel says. “In particular, it was the relaxed and casual lifestyle they experienced during many visits to the Abrolhos Islands that we have tried to recreate with the home’s design and decor.”

An Orb chandelier from Trilogy illuminates the local marri dining suite from Brooker Furniture, and chairs covered in Lotus Swiss fabric from Gould Derrick & Co. The Chinese sideboard from Birds of Passage anchors Port Scene, an artwork  in traditional lacquer with gold and silver leaf by renowned Vietnamese artist Bui Huu Hung. Hand-embroidered wall hangings, which traditionally line the interiors of Mongolian yurts, warm the courtyard’s concrete walls, and feature the clients’ favourite colours of oranges and reds. 


The boundaries between home and river are all but imperceptible, thanks to the inclusion of a timber walkway or ‘jetty’, a subtle nod to the underlying island theme. The jetty leads visitors from the front gate, through the house with its full-height windows, and onto generous verandahs that jut out from the structural envelope. The effect is that the home cantilevers among the native trees, seeming to float serenely on the river. 

The blueprint not only provides a wonderful indoor-outdoor lifestyle for the couple and their children and grandchildren (who spend extended stays from overseas) to enjoy in a physical way, it also allows for the simple pleasure of sitting back and watching the activity on the river.

Unsurprisingly, the home’s prized location demands a certain resolve that the river vista be omnipresent, so fashioning transparency within the design was top of Rachel’s priorities. Her playful consideration of reflective surfaces such as the kitchen’s black acrylic cabinetry forms a continuation of the horizon and river panorama when approached obliquely. The ensuite, too, exemplifies beauty in simplicity, with a horizontal vanity window and vertical picture window at
the foot of the bathtub stretching out infinitely to the water.

A request for interchangeable living spaces was achieved with a limited yet considered selection of timber (such as the American black walnut used on the jetty and internal cladding), subtle marble, and honed and Marmorino polished concrete. “This has allowed the transition of space and function to be blurred,” says Rachel.

Sitting proudly atop a Chinese sidetable, statues welcome visitors to the home, in the same way that they might customarily protect those entering a Burmese Buddhist temple. All the floor rugs are from Temple Direct. 


Everyone, she says, is thrilled that each room has its own purpose and feeling of identity, something that, in large part, has been achieved by incorporating perforated patterned steel screening. Rachel designed the screen after learning of the owner’s admiration of Takashi Sugimoto, from Japanese interior design studio Super Potato, who uses raw and recycled materials, organic steel and stone.

Rachel drew on the designer’s unique philosophy to emulate a design that was also influenced by the original timber ceiling of the clients’ previous home, a 100-year-old Fremantle apartment that had a previous life as a storage warehouse. There, the honeycomb detailing acted as a support structure.

“The client and I both liked the timber ceiling, so we transferred the idea over
to this build,” Rachel says. “The design is a very simple geometric pattern that
is based on a tiling layout I had seen in a villa in Italy.”

Doubling as an office, this quiet reading retreat is screened off from the entry hall and the gym.


The pattern unifies the varying materials and surfaces on which it appears to intensify the all-encompassing flow from home to river.

Keen to contribute to the design process, the clients crafted the steel screens themselves at their shipyard. To achieve a more rustic feel, the screens were plasma-cut, rather than opting for a sharper laser finish. The screens were then left in the weather to rust to the desired effect.

By embracing the old with the new, the home is vivid and rich with colour, character and texture. Aligning with the owners’ active lifestyle, it also offers an architectural point of difference on a coveted stretch of the Swan River.

The powder-coated aluminium-clad elevation references the area’s original weatherboard homes and has a modest impact on the riverscape and escarpment.



Wrightfeldhusen (08) 9384 6611, wrightfeldhusen.com (architect) 
Alti Lighting (08) 9284 2203, alti.com.au (pendant light) 
Beeck Design (08) 9383 3059, beeckdesign.com.au (mosaic table) 
Bernini (08) 9388 1193, bernini.com.au (Argento stone) 
Brooker Furniture (08) 9335 1544, brookerfurniture.com.au (dining suite) 
Bui Huu Hung, buihuuhung.com (art) 
Bullet Signs and Print (08) 9528 1920, bulletsignshop.com.au (custom wallpaper) 
Drage Furniture (08) 9249 4670, dragefurniture.com (kitchen cabinetry) 
Gould Derrick & Co (08) 9335 3966 (dining room chair fabric) 
Jetmaster Fireplaces WA (08) 9328 5777, jetmasterfireplaceswa.com.au (fireplace) 
Lamond Powell Construction (08) 9335 9966, lamondpowell.net.au (construction) 
Lujo 1300 145 190, lujo.com.au (outdoor beanbags) 
Temple Direct (08) 6140 1763, templedirect.com.au (floor rugs) 
Trilogy Furniture (08) 9383 4712, trilogyfurniture.com.au (chandelier) 
Webber Furniture (08) 9386 6730, webberfurniture.com.au (lounge suite).



Join Our Community
You May Also Like