Grand Designs Australia

A chef's quirky windmill home in remote Tasmania

This whimsical Grand Design draws together an old windmill, a duck house, and a woodshed—and a five-star chef's new way of life.

Five-star chef Philip Murphy’s cooked up a storm in restaurants all around the world. Now though, he's left the kitchen for a much quieter life at the bottom of the world. 

Six years ago, he hung up the apron and the stress and chose a more carefree existence in the remote town of Stanley—a tiny fishing port on the far north-west coast of Tasmania. With national park on one side, the Bass Strait on the other, and a massive volcanic plug in the centre—the far-flung Stanley peninsula is the ultimate escape from the pressure cooker life. 

"It's the first time I've lived anywhere where I'm really happy to come home," Philip says. "The people are great. Everyone is friendly. I get great seafood, I get great vegetables."

Philip bought a property in Stanley with a small B&B at the front that he runs as his business. At the back was a cluster of disconnected, kooky buildings—and this is where he lives. A windmill slash lighthouse worked as a kitchen, and an old woodshed Philip calls 'the stable'—was his bedroom and bathroom.

There was also a decaying lean-to that used to house ducks and looked more like a rocket and really had no use, except that Philip loves it.

Philip's grand design plan was to join the three little buildings together to make one house - a petite residence for one. 

His architect was Sydney-based Greg Prentice, Philip’s best mate from school days. "We've got a wide and varied palette of materials within the building," Greg said. "It's just part of the wild kaleidoscope that we've got and I think somehow it'll all-all kind of crazily go together."

The windmill-come-kitchen, the stable with bedroom and tiny bathroom, and the rather dire duck house would all be joined together with one new modern structure. A vestibule linking the bedroom and kitchen meant no more wet socks, dashing between the two on a stormy night. But the biggest bonus would be all the extra space, with a covered deck and rhomboid-shaped living room and huge recycle bay window.

Attached to the lounge is a second bedroom or sleeping nook Philip calls the "piggly-wiggly" room, and this is bookended by two second-hand windows. The rocket-shaped duck house remained rustic, but raised onto a concrete slab and converted to a working toilet.

The new design is anchored by the octagonal windmill, clad in recycled materials and capped with a skillion roof. The result is a building straight out of left field, bound with salvaged materials and a keen eye for the unusual. A giant cubby made to order.

Over the course of the build, Philip doubled his original budget of $60k—but he is happy with the outcome just the same. "You know it's given me a sense of joy and a sense [that] really do belong here in Stanley, I'm not just camping out in funny little buildings, I have a real home." 

Watch more incredible Grand Designs Australia homes on Lifestyle.

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