Renee & Adrian’s Sustainable Hideaway in Western Australia

published Feb 3, 2016
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Name: Renee Mouritz and Adrian Testa and their dog, Sammy
Location: Yallingup, Western Australia
Size: 128 square meters (1,378 square feet)
Years lived in: 10 years; Owned

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Renee, a passionate Australian conservationist, and Adrian, a chiropractor from New York, built themselves a home near the coast of Western Australia to serve as a retreat from the busy-ness of the rest of the world. Their home is a study in sustainability; they used rammed earth and locally sourced timber for the external structure of the home and then filled the space with mostly secondhand and repurposed furniture and accessories.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Living simply and as close to nature as possible was always the goal for Renee and Adrian, and when designing this home, they worked together to ensure that was considered. From the bathroom being outside (a quick dash around the deck to hop into the bath) to the many indoor/outdoor spaces that make up this home, there is always the chance to get up close and personal with the surroundings.

The homeowners love nothing more than retreating to the upstairs loft in the evening to watch a movie and eat dinner on the low coffee table, or heading outside where they lovingly tend to their many veggie patches that are bursting with homegrown organic produce. Renee and Adrian have individually sanded and oiled every piece of timber that makes up the construction of the house, they have crafted unique artwork (from the washed-up junk they’ve collected from local beaches) to decorate the rooms, and they have almost entirely furnished their home with salvaged, repurposed, or secondhand finds from local thrift stores and from friends and family.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Old School Salvage. We love to just make do—finding and making things from what we already have, instead of buying something new.

Inspiration: Solar passive design, natural organic living, simple Earth-friendly design.

Favorite Element: The warmth of our house with all the timber and rammed earth.

Biggest Challenge: Being true to our values of sustainability and natural building techniques in a world that doesn’t always value them.

What Friends Say: They always comment on how peaceful and quiet our home is.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our naturally oiled floors. We did themselves and unfortunately didn’t do a very good job.

Proudest DIY: There are many of them so it is hard to pick, but I would say our daybed that Adrian built out of Marri railway sleepers.

Biggest Indulgence: Our sliding doors. Oh, and our cedar hot tub, of course.

Best Advice: Make sure you do some relationship coaching before you build your own house 🙂 And choose things that reflect you, your personality, and your environment.

Dream Sources: As we are not really into material things, but books like these are our dream sources for inspiration: Little House on a Small Planet by Shay Salomon, Handmade Houses by Richard Olsen, Sticks, Stones, Mud Homes by Nigel Noyes, and Home Work by Lloyd Kahn.


(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)


  • Main living area: Bio Paint White
  • Kitchen: Wattyl Environmental Choice Toffee Fingers
  • Bedroom: Wattyl Environmental Choice Porcelain Figurines
  • Loft: Wattyl Environmental Choice Porcelain Figurines
  • Bathroom: Bio Paint White tinted to Toffee Fingers


  • Jotul potbelly stove: secondhand
  • Fan: eBay
  • Wooden boxes: salvage yard
  • Paintings: Adrian
(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)


  • Soft furnishings on both daybeds: Oxfam
  • Chair: garage sale
  • Cushions: Bali, handmade
  • Coffee table: secondhand, restored by Renee
  • Bookshelves: IKEA
  • Rainbow paper lantern: Bali
  • Leadlight window: Goanna Gallery


(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)


  • Kitchen cupboard doors: Margaret River Salvage
  • Blackboard: old picture, painted over with blackboard paint
  • Kettle: Kitchen Works
  • Food processor: secondhand
  • Leadlight windows: secondhand
  • Window frames: custom-made
  • Westinghouse fridge: Lions Club Shed Augusta—a $60 bargain that has been going strong for us for 14 years!
(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)


  • Bed frame: made by Adrian
  • Quilt: Beach Lifestyle Living
  • Bedding: Spotlight
  • Trunk: vintage
  • Wardrobe: vintage, bought secondhand, restored by Renee
  • Chair: secondhand
  • Bedside table: passed down through family
  • Lamp: Lightspot Bunbury
  • Shelf room divider: kitchenette found at the local rubbish dump
  • Painting: Goanna Gallery


  • Towels: Target
  • Wooden medicine cabinet: vintage
  • Huon pine bench top: sourced from Tasmania—the only non-local timber used in the house build
  • Glass vase: The Reject Shop
  • Wicker balls: The Reject Shop
  • Painting: Renee


  • Wooden highchair: secondhand
  • Desk: secondhand
  • Bookshelf: secondhand
  • Sunrise photos on canvas: Adrian
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Renee and Adrian (Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

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Thanks, Renee & Adrian!