Rethinking The Simple Home: Leon Meyer

Perfecting The Clean Well Lighted Space

I’m excited to present our latest exclusive plans from Melbourne, Australia architect Leon Meyer. They’re all about an artful and yet very practical simplicity. By concentrating on a few strong ideas — such as maximizing views, daylight, and connections to outdoor space — and by using a limited palette of materials Leon shows how to provide extra livability and character within an appealing modern esthetic. For example, in the kitchen of Plan 496-21 a long

narrow window band behind the sink turns what would have been an ordinary backsplash into a memorable light source and view finder. The gray-blue frame

for the window is especially deft because it extends around the corner behind the range and appears to bring the window with it. The other end of the kitchen

opens to a spacious, almost house-wide deck for easy outdoor dining and entertaining. Notice also that he places a long clerestory window opposite the

wall of sliding glass doors to balance the light. The main living spaces are on the upper floor and include the great room, powder room, and master suite.  A

raised hearth extending the length of the fireplace wall adds extra space for sitting and display. (I would add some pillows to the window corner shown above and claim that space for curling up with a good book!) The master

bathroom isn’t large but feels spacious thanks to the floating counter, continuous mirror, and wall-mounted fixtures. Wide saucer-like basins enhance the feeling of Zen-like simplicity. The lower floor is a straightforward arrangement of

bedrooms. Leon cleverly divides the bath into two rooms — one with toilet and sink, the other with sink and shower — so that two people can use it at the same time. There’s also a so-called “kids lounge” which could eventually become the media room. The street view shows how the house occupies a sloping site; the

backsplash window is visible at the upper right.

In Plan 496-18, shown below,  Leon takes what I would call a modern Prairie

School approach, with a hip roof and strong overhangs sheltering second floor windows, as he  has done in a suite of previous plans. Another new design,

Plan 496-17, is more geometric, with an emphasis on straightforward rectilinear shapes. To my eye, Leon is building upon various strands of Australian Modernism, from the Prairie School designs of  Walter Burley Griffin, as

in this house in Sydney, of 1936 (photo courtesy to the Bauhaus-

inspired abstractions of Harry Seidler, as in the house he designed for his mother and father Rose and Max Seidler of 1950 (photo courtesy Historic Houses Trust).

It turns out that simplicity isn’t all that simple!

Note: American-born Griffin and his wife, architect Marion Mahoney Griffin emigrated to Australia in 1914 upon winning the competition for the design of Canberra, and subsequently developed a small Sydney neighborhood called Castle Crag. Austrian-born Seidler emigrated to Australia in the late 1940s after a stint at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he studied under Gropius. He became one of Australia’s most famous modern architects. The Rose Seidler House is open for tours.)






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