A hard-working, young Melbourne couple sought a weekend getaway on the land and ended up building an eclectic, handmade cabin with a lighter footprint.

On a picturesque 37-acre property, a two-hour drive from home, the weekender is nestled into the hill, protected from the wind and taking in views of the paddocks, a pine forest and the hills beyond. Owner-builders Nathan and Lucy Hersey designed and built their little slice of the simple life with a mix of recycled and new materials.

As Nathan explained, “The cabin itself is supposed to be simple, cosy and functional and is constructed using a mix of recycled materials, including windows and a door collected from hard rubbish.” Other recycled materials included flooring, recycled glass bottle insulation and leftover framing timber from other people’s work sites. “Being low impact is something that we have always lived by,” added Nathan.

With little previous construction experience, Nathan and Lucy learnt on the job and chose materials that would also be easy to work with. Ecoply structural plywood well and truly fit the bill for the interiors. “To be honest it is really easy to work with. We were able to build the whole cabin using battery powered tools and the Ecoply was easy to cut, hold in place and fix in position.”

The interior of the cabin is filled with furniture and pieces collected from travels and second hand shops from all over the east coast of Australia. It’s a space filled with love and memories that feels warm and cosy and is lined, almost entirely in Ecoply. “It’s a cool looking product that is good to the environment, easy to work with, saves time and wastage during construction, and gave us the simple, yet rugged and warm feeling we were wanting to achieve. It’s a product that creates a finish that looks great and is low impact,” explained Nathan.

Ecoply is manufactured from sustainably grown Australian and New Zealand plantation pine. Environmental Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is recognised as the preferred cradle-to-grave basis for comparing the environmental impact of products, including building materials. On a limited LCA basis, building in wood sourced from sustainably-managed plantations represents a net removal of carbon dioxide away from the atmosphere for at least the life of the structure.

As such, building in wood sourced from sustainably-managed plantations can therefore make a positive contribution to combating climate change. It’s a fact that is not lost on Nathan, who added, “It’s always appealed to me that from my cabin lined with Ecoply, I can see the pine plantation out the window, growing taller each year. Perhaps some of the trees from next to our property will end up helping to fulfil other people’s dreams in the future and look as great as our getaway does!” 

Photographer: Caitlin Mills for The Design Files