An Architect + Publicist's Stunning Off-Grid Country Victoria Escape – The Design Files

DKO Architecture founder and principal Koos de Keijzer, and Harvey Taylor publicity director Clemence Harvey de Keijzer, ‘knew nothing’ about country living before inspecting an off-grid house for sale near Kyneton, Victoria.
At the time, Melbourne had just endured its first COVID-19 lockdown, and the couple were living in a Collingwood apartment. This 100-acre property with valley views captured their hearts immediately, so they put in an offer while heading down the driveway.
The couple moved in shortly after, and have since renovated the home to exude ‘glamorous, Italian, 70s-inspired country sustainability!’
Dianna Snape
Welcome to Koos de Keijzer and Clemence Harvey de Keijzer amazing country escape! Bouroullec Belt Brown Casambi pendant light from FLOS. Reupholstered Bellini chairs.
PETRA I Quartz Sconces by Christopher Boots. The windows frame views of the valley.
Clemence Harvey and Koos de Keijzer stand in their luxurious kitchen! Central quartz island bench. Photo – Sharyn Cairns
Koos says the land and its surrounds are referred to locally as ‘granite country.’
The recent renovation includes 13 new thermal glazed windows, a new floor and ceiling, and interior and exterior painting. Central quartz island bench. Handmade Japanese tiles by INAX.
The open-plan kitchen and dining area is full of rich textures and deep tones.
Their kitchen walls are lined with handmade Japanese tiles by INAX, who initially worked with famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright on the company’s first designs!
The glamorous island bench is even more striking again the olive green tiles in the backdrop.
Frank Gehry Wiggle Chair from Vitra. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin 3 Table Lamp from Frank Lloyd Wright Store. Reticular by Polly Borland.
Vintage brown velvet Maralunga Sofa by Magistretti Cassina. Olive Green B&B Italia Camaleonda Sofa by Mario Bellini. Various artworks by: Polly Borland, Tony Albert, Naminapu Maymuru-White, Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu, Gavin Brown and The Huxleys.
The couple’s kelpie, Bess, looks out to the incredible bush lands!
The circa 2000 house is made from local stone. Exterior painted in Porter’s Paints River Stone.
A wraparound deck make the most of the home’s sensational north-facing views.
The property is serviced by solar panels and captures its own water. The couple have also established a productive kitchen garden.
Dianna Snape
Prior to purchasing their current home near Kyneton (about 70 minutes north-west of Melbourne), the couple lived full time in a Collingwood apartment.
The pandemic changed all that, and they now escape the city and their busy jobs (Koos is the founder and principal of DKO Architecture, and Clemence is the director of Harvey Taylor publicity) every weekend to relax on their 100-acre property.
When inspecting this home, Koos and Clemence decided within three minutes it’s where they’d live forever.
‘The view and setting just took our breath away. I could also see good potential in the structural bones of the existing house and the north-facing sheltered location on the hill overlooking the valley was excellent,’ says Koos.
‘[We] decided to buy the 100-acre property without even checking the boundaries or fences. We knew nothing about country living!’
What Koos and Clemence do know is how to design a renovation. After moving into the home (built circa 2000), they soon embarked on a transformation of the house and its grounds.
The renovation goal was to strip back the home to better take in its surrounding environment. The exterior needed to blend into the surrounds (achieved with landscaping and Porter’s Paints River Stone), while the interiors needed to be not too city (‘overly urban and monochrome’) or obviously country (‘with wicker baskets and lavender bunches’). ‘It was important to us to achieve a balance,’ says Koos.
Koos and Clemence reconfigured the floor plan by amalgamating five smaller rooms into a large, voluminous living space that looks out over Pastoria Valley. The kitchen was also moved to a different location within the home.
‘I obsessed about the plan, whereas Clemence had a decisive voice in the design of the kitchen, selection of tiles, and surfaces,’ says Koos. ‘Luckily our aesthetic tastes and eyes are very similar, so it is a very happy outcome, and happy place for us to be.’
Six months later (and two days before Christmas!), their renovation was complete. More works are already planned to be undertaken over the next five years.
These renovations, on top of the property’s daily demands, are taxing at times, but Koos and Clemence wouldn’t have it any other way.
‘We need to split wood for heating, ensure the water tanks are full and operating, that the pumps in the dam work efficiently … It has been a complete and consuming new skill set to acquire,’ says Koos.
‘The property is completely unlike a city home, where you walk in and simply flick a switch, but that is what we love about it. We can happily claim to be 100 per cent off grid!’
There’s now nothing more that Koos and Clemence love than driving to the country knowing their sofa, a scotch, and living room view awaits.
‘Our home has become a sanctuary for ourselves, family, and friends, which is what we always intended. On a Friday afternoon, we head for the hills, and are grateful and appreciative to be in such a special and isolated part of the world,’ says Koos.
‘We are staying here forever.’
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