The Journal

The Coastal Pavilion with Mim Fanning & Lou De Mattia

Located on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, the Coastal Pavilion by Mim Design harnesses the raw beauty of the seaside into a minimalist, mid-century-inspired residence. We spoke to the principal of the renowned practice, Miriam Fanning, and her client Lou De Mattia, owner of furniture and lifestyle store Coastal Living about the design process – from mood board to move-in day!

Photography by Tom Blachford

How long have you known each other? How did you first meet? 

Lou: I have known Mim going on 7 years. We first met through close friends, while on a family holiday in Noosa.

Lou, tell us about your design brief to Mim for the Coastal Pavilion. What was on your mood board, and what were your “must-haves”?

Lou: Our design brief to Mim Design for the Coastal Pavilion was to design a pared-back home that was going to be a permanent residence family home, based on the coast. Our mood board reflected homes that were simple, functional, calm and relaxed in their mood – spaces filled with natural light, pared down forms and natural materials, taking inspiration from mid-century modern architecture. Our must-haves included loads of texture, natural light and a well thought out floor plan that created calming spaces we could enjoy no matter what the season or end use.

Mim, your studio is known for its collaborative ways of working and honouring each client’s unique way of living. What was the process like working with Lou, who herself comes from such a creative background?

Mim: Working with Lou and [her husband] Ross was seamless. Their authentic way of living with a curated sense of coastal calm led the way for a perfect collaboration. Each meeting was a celebration of things we all loved. The interiors and exteriors were responsive to the site as well as a reflection of Lou and Ross. 

Lou: Our initial meeting was so exciting and was a really melting pot of ideas being shared and explored. As we all come from different creative different backgrounds, the meetings were always approached with lots of ideas that would then be edited down. The meetings were comprehensive with a focus on our needs while also pushing ideas that we would not have thought of. We love the fact that Mim Design adapt to each client’s ways of living. Mim’s passion for design and details is so inspiring to watch and experience.

From your initial meetings to breaking ground and beyond, what was your favourite stage of the project?

Lou: It would have to be the entire process as you learn so much along the way which pushes you to thinking differently – and, of course, moving in day!

Mim: I think my most favourite stages were at the beginning, discussing all the possibilities, and the end, celebrating with a fabulous photoshoot, enjoying the spaces together and reminiscing about the first day of design engagement.

How would you describe the home’s aesthetic?

Mim: This home is calm, seamless, soft, breathable, timeless, open and enables a connected family life.

Mim, how did you strike a balance between the necessary functional elements and the more playful design details?

Mim: The balance is always about ensuring you don’t overdo it – it’s about creating playful elements that can still talk to all, both children and adults.

We’d love to hear how the idea of the interconnected pavilions come about.

Mim: This came to fruition due to the nature of the site and the slope of the block. The house connects as a pavilion would, stepping over 3 levels from the entry of the house to the rear garden.

As the founder of Armadillo stockist Coastal Living, Lou obviously has an enviable collection of rugs! What other tactile or textural materials did you introduce through the furniture and furnishings?

Mim: Lou is a mastermind of texture, from bedlinen to throw cushions, even her own wardrobe.  Lou pretty much lives and breathes texture. Our additions were the rendered brick walls, concrete paving, timber board panelling and natural stone inclusions.

How did you factor in Lou’s busy family life when it came to material selections?

Mim: All the materials had to be authentic, tactile, timeless and also derive from a desaturated colour palette.

What is your favourite room in the home?

Lou: Oh, now that’s a hard question as I love all the rooms in our home! If I had to choose one spot, it would be the front sunroom that seamlessly leads to an outdoors space that features a curved breeze block wall. The connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces transitions effortlessly. We enjoy the mornings sitting in this space with coffee in hand, and the evenings having drinks with friends watching the sunset.

Do you have a favourite feature or object in the home?

Lou: That would have to be all our white brickwork, internally and externally. Object-wise I would have to say our giant cactus that greets you when you open the front door. He is literally my second child!

What role does nature play both in your space and your day-to-day life?

Lou: I think more than ever, people are sensing how nature reminds us to slow down and be more in the present moment. I always find a sense of calmness when it comes to the coastal nature. 

From the design sensibilities to the slower-paced lifestyle, what do you love the most about the Mornington Peninsula? How does it inspire you creatively?

Lou: What I love most about the Mornington Peninsula is the sense of space we have to explore and the sense of community spirit. Being so close to the ocean, I draw inspiration mostly from the coastal landscape. Mother Nature is a great provider of creative inspiration.

Finally, we can’t help but ask – what’s your favourite Armadillo rug to have underfoot?

Lou: The Malawi in Kelp – I love that this design features a tasseled fringe and is all hand-knotted from wool. It’s super soft and subtle underfoot.

Follow Mim Design and Coastal Living on Instagram.


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