sneak peek: nina still {seal rocks}


Australian designer Nina Still of puka puka (which in japanese means ‘an object floating gently in space’) credits her modernist aesthetic from her training as an architect and jeweler.  Drawn to the clean lines of the 1960s, she also loves the colors from that era.  her own work is inspired by the forms, colors and details of the landscape around her.  many of the prototypes for her mobiles are created at her holiday house – today’s sneak peek – in Seal Rocks, a small coastal fishing village surrounded by beautiful beaches about three hours outside of Sydney. Click here for additional images of Nina’s bush getaway, and don’t miss her latest work on her blog. {thanks, nina!}anne

[above: We have been camping at Seal Rocks for many years. When a block of land came up for sale we bought it and designed a house as a series separate pavilions joined by open courtyards to recreate the camping experience. Our family is full of architects and it was designed by my father, Colin Still. We all use it as a studio and base to go snorkeling, bushwalking, sketching and fishing. It is a relaxed house with a palette of neutral colours and finishes.

The house has been designed around a series of courtyards with views out to the adjacent national park. The courtyards are protected from the summer sun by pergolas covered with native vines. The garden is planted with native grasses and trees that require little maintenance and are loved by the local bird life.]

The lightweight steel structure was designed to be low cost and fire retardant, and built within 6 months. As the house is surrounded by national park, fire is a constant threat. All the glass openings have corrugated steel shutters that slide across when we leave the house to protect the house if there is a fire.

The house colours are subtle so as not to compete with the paintings and landscape views. Paintings have all been done by someone in our family. Furnishings are simple – many crafted from reused or cast off materials. The floor is polished concrete which is cool is summer and easy to sweep – important when there are so many sandy feet!

Warm perforated plywood lines the ceilings, enlivened by the steel and timber exposed structure. Louvres allow sea breezes to cool the house in summer and bring in more light in winter.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Nina’s sneak peek after the jump!

The kitchen, its large enough to allow three generations of the family to all cook together, although much of the cooking is done on the barbeques in each of the courtyards.

The main bedroom has peaceful views out to the bush. The screens can be slid across for privacy, and the louvres opened for cooling.

Bedside table made from perforated plywood. The porcelain mug is by my friend Szilvia Gyorgy.

The Bathroom is always bathed in light, all the water used in the house comes from large rainwater tanks.

The house is clad in corrugated steel with screens to break up the facades.

The best thing in the house is the outside shower! You shower in the sun looking out into the lemon trees and small vegetable garden. A screen can be moved for privacy. Perfect after a day in the surf. The soil is mostly sand so we don’t get too many things growing in the vegetable garden except for herbs, beans, and rocket. The mango tree, avocado, and lemon trees seem to be surviving as we add lots of compost.

I generally make my mobiles here in the protected courtyard, after feeling inspired from a snorkeling trip or surf. it’s a nice big table looking out into the bush.

Our children, Fern and Atto have handmade plywood sand skis. Playing in sand dunes makes a good break from the water. The timber boarding used outside is laid directly on the sand and stops too much sand coming into the house.

The BBQ is very well used, as we spend lots of time eating outside.

This is the north courtyard facing the bush, you can hear the surf from here.

  1. Love the plywood ceiling!

  2. Stella says:

    You thought of all the important little details… the life-cycle of sand, for instance!

    Would you ever let me stay for a little while? I will hum a happy tune while I sweep!

  3. I’m completely envious of the outdoor shower!

  4. Tanya says:

    I have never wanted an outdoor shower more. How peaceful does that sound?

  5. Naomi says:

    Lovely bathroom and lovely mobiles! I also really like that bed covering.

  6. Melissa says:

    Everything about this house is so relaxing. It would be so hard to leave after a vacation here!

  7. Joey says:

    No wonder those mobiles are so beautiful! What an inspirational place to work and play. I love puka puka!!

  8. Shelley says:

    Just like the comments before me, I can see how you could be inspired to create by such a beautiful, relaxing environment. I need a holiday!

  9. Sam says:

    So wonderful to see a home which all the family have contributed to making – and what a success! Love the house and I’m a big puka puka fan too – gorgeous mobiles!

  10. I’ve always loved Nina’s work and wondered where she got her inspiration from to make those beautiful mobiles………and now I know!

  11. Aki says:

    wow… I love Nina’s work. What an inspirational environment for these beautiful mobiles. Landscape merges with art.

  12. Shellie says:

    What a beautiful holiday home- so in tune with its surroundings; the way it was conceived & is used by the talented & environmentally-conscious family within! Definitely extends to Nina’s work.

  13. I am wondering how the wooden planks work just laid directly on the sand, do they move around? Are they attached to each other?
    beautiful space ……….oh the shower!

  14. Jo says:

    All the beauty of the house and surroundings is reflected in those gorgeous mobiles, Nina looks so relaxed and happy making them there. Love the new colourful balls too!

  15. Eva says:

    aaah what a life.

  16. sophie says:

    wow I want to be there now and feel the inspiration…makes total sense why Ninas mobiles are so peaceful and fresh! Love her work and love the fact that the whole family is so creative!

  17. sajjal says:

    if you saw this house passing near by you will not took a notice but if you came inside this house you don’t want to miss any thing of it so lovely, awesome place to spend holidays

  18. Anna says:

    I love this home!!! Just looking at the interior, I can feel the warmth and the breeze. I am so longing for a beachy getaway!

  19. creativity exudes out of this place and the people who live there! What a gift that this family has so much talent, and a place to nurture and share it!

  20. Michele says:

    Initially after seeing the photo of the home’s exterior and the corrugated metal, I thought, cold. What a pleasant surprise that the house seems very warm and inviting on the inside. Great job!

  21. Tricia Rose says:

    Sand-skis! My brother and I used to make them for the sandhills at Kurnell ~
    Wonderful house

  22. Laura says:

    This would be my absolute dream vacation home! What an escape. Love it. I wonder what their day to day home looks like

  23. SuzyQ says:

    Wow. That’s a fantastic, well-thought-out home! Is there any chance we could see a floor plan? I’d love to be able to see the flow of the building… Pretty please?

  24. Tash says:

    I had seen Nina’s mobiles for sale at Mark Tucky and now I see where she gets her inspiration. How Ozzy paradise!

  25. msd says:

    I can only echo what others have said… This is a great family holiday house that’s sensitive to its surroundings. And the outside shower, oh my!

  26. jennifer g says:

    Gracious living. long sigh.

  27. Nina says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words, we are very lucky to be able to spend time at Seal Rocks.
    re: Our house in Sydney is being renovated – by us, very slowly so it is refreshing to go somewhere that is complete!
    re: The boards are made into panels and sit directly on the sand – they are very heavy so they don’t move.
    Suzy- I will see if I can chase up a floor plan.

  28. What a treat to be able to see the house I’ve heard so much of. Beautiful surroundings, excellent work. Nice cup too.

  29. Sophie says:

    Waow, beautiful and very functional house.My baby and I love your mobile, I would love you to the house that goes with it!

  30. Janie Raffin says:

    What a stunning site to find; such a beautiful home so lightly touching the ground. Nina, I wonder would you give my email address to your wonderful Dad. I caught up with briefly at Orange earlier this month, and kicked myself for not asking for an email address. It was so exciting to see him again. He has made such an enormous difference to so many regional areas; and I just love and appreciate his generous contribution.
    Thanking you
    Janie Raffin


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