House Tour: This Stunning Home Was Just Named Australia’s House of the Year

Simplicity, sustainability and affordability won this modest beach restoration the top award in home design.

A beachside restoration in the Gold Coast suburbs has been awarded the 2020 Australian House of the Year. Chosen by a panel of industry experts, the Cantala Avenue House by ME was selected because of the way it has evolved the idea of an antipodean coastal home, mirroring the no-fuss nature of the Australian home, with strong considerations towards sustainability and affordability.

Cantala Avenue House By ME, Photography Christopher Frederick Jones

The 2020 Houses jury commented that within the broader context of the world’s current challenges, Cantala Avenue House “calls on us to reflect on what is truly important and what we essentially need to live well.

Architect Matthew Eagle has solved ordinary design problems in an extraordinary way, reconsidered the suburban status quo and pushed boundaries, literally and figuratively, all within a reasonable budget.”

Cantala Avenue House By ME, Photography Christopher Frederick Jones

Equal priority has been given to indoor and outdoor spaces, appropriately embracing the subtropical climate. Both the existing plan and the new addition are punctuated with planted courtyards to maximize natural light and ventilation, while minimizing heat from the harsh western sun.

Architect Matthew Eagle has also preserved and reused a significant amount of the original materials to reduce waste.

Cantala Avenue House By ME, Photography Christopher Frederick Jones

Cantala Avenue House is an alteration to a 1970s-era house and addition that celebrates a simple life. Just a short walk from the beach the jury said the house is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional beach shack – carefully avoiding replication, it is a playful and refreshing reinvention. It has civic respect, yet individualism.

Cantala Avenue House By ME, Photography Christopher Frederick Jones

The brick-paved outdoor area features low seating edge and fireplace. A ha-ha replaces the need for pool fencing. Originating from 18th-century English gentry a ha-ha is a sunken ditch allowing uninterrupted views while providing a secure barrier unseen from the open garden above.

Northern light and fresh air enters the home through two narrow garden voids, one between the living room and bedroom, the other between the bedroom and bathroom.

House Tour: The Rustic Fisherman’s Shack Turned Eco Retreat

The Little Black Shack on Sydney’s Great Mackerel Beach is designed around rest, relaxation and sustainability.

A short ferry ride from Palm Beach, Great Mackerel is a small coastal hamlet surrounded by National park and a long stretch of sandy beach. With no cars or shops, and a small local population, it offers a slower pace of life and a place of quiet tranquillity.

The Little Black Shack compliments the stunning natural environment and pared-back way of life.

Photography by Max Doyle

The owner’s believe they can inspire people to make choices that are better for the planet if they can provide them with an amazing experience that provides everything they need whilst taking very little from the environment.

From the bed the owner’s made themselves, it’s height relative to the windows with its 100% linen from Carlotta + Gee, to the low VOC paint on the walls and preloved furniture, the Little Black Shack is a clever curation of sustainable comfort and design.

Photography by Max Doyle

Originally hand-built by fishermen around the 1930s, the original shack was made using local timber and sandstone. It was later extended to accommodate the fishermen’s families with the addition of a kitchen, sandstone bathroom and a small sandstone storage shed with a toilet.

More than 80 years of exposure to the elements and termites had taken their toll so the current owners spent 18 months of hard work recycling, repurposing, reusing and rebuilding what couldn’t be fixed.

The shack is filled with an eclectic mix of pre-loved furniture, collectables and family ‘finds’ along with pre-loved objects gathered from the owner’s travels around Australia and the world and forages along the beach.

Photography by Max Doyle

The Little Black Shack is positioned to take advantage of the water’s natural cooling and heating system. In the summer the cool water temperature and fresh sea breezes from the north east are more than enough to keep the house cool and comfortable on even the hottest of days.

In the winter, the sea also regulates the temperature and its thermal effect actually keeps the shack warmer as the water temperature rarely drops below 17 degrees celsius.

Both bedrooms are furnished with cowhide rugs, antique cupboards and chests of drawers, handmade beds and 100% organic flax linen bedding from Carlotta and Gee. the 100% linen feels great, promotes deep and relaxing sleep and is thermo-regulating. Pure linen insulates in the winter keeping you warmer.

Photography by Max Doyle

And because it’s antistatic and doesn’t cling to your body, in summer, it relieves the skin of excessive heat to keep you cooler. The big beautiful, comfortable beds are completely made from second hand timber.

The king bed had a former life as a ramp to transport materials from the beach to the site. The queen bed is made from old timber salvaged on site.


Everything that’s painted or stained at the shack has been done with Porter’s Paints – 100% Australian made, environmentally friendly, all natural and water-based.

The natural Porter’s Paints used contain zero or extremely low VOC’s and are not only better for the environment, they are also better for you, decreasing asthmatic reactions and allergic sensitisation.