Balnarring Retreat – A Relaxing Multi-Purpose Getaway Overlooking a Pond

Designed as a multi-purpose backyard studio, this small retreat comes from the Australian firm Branch Studio Architects. The retreat was built for a client who wanted a quiet getaway, where he could escape from day-to-day life.


The brief from the owner asked for: “a slow moving space that would provide a refuge from the hectic paces of modern life.” The building accommodates several functions including a home office, entertainment space and guest house.

Balnarring Retreat - Branch Studio Architects - Australia - Exterior - Humble Homes


The project, titled Balnarring Retreat after its location, overlooks a pond in the owners substantial plot of land. The exterior of the building clad with shiplap hardwood of Silvertop Ash that’s finished with Cutek oil. The dark wood is complimented by the galvanized black frames of the windows.

Balnarring Retreat - Branch Studio Architects - Australia - Interior Living Area - Humble Homes


On the inside, the walls and ceiling have been finished with plywood sheets, while the floor is made up of polished concrete. Plywood has also been used to create some of the furniture and storage pieces. With the use of exposed metal piping, concrete and wood, there’s an element of rawness throughout the space.

Balnarring Retreat - Branch Studio Architects - Australia - Kitchen - Humble Homes

The majority of Balnarring Retreat is taken up by an open plan room. Different areas are created along the length of the room. At the back of the building, you’ll find a sleeping area, sectioned off in one corner. A bit further up, and you’ll meet the kitchen area (it’s more of a kitchenette).

Balnarring Retreat - Branch Studio Architects - Australia - Bathroom - Humble Homes

A series of storage closets and a dining area are set opposed the kitchen, while the retreats bathroom is set next to it. The next part of the room is dedicated to the living area. It’s probably the most used space in the house as it looks out on the pond through its floor-to-ceiling windows.

Balnarring Retreat - Branch Studio Architects - Australia - Floor Plan - Humble Homes

The living area also contains a small study to one side, and a day bed in front of the windows that drops down to bring you almost level with the pond. I think my favorite space in this project has to be the bathroom, as it’s lined with a rough finish walls, and features an all glass ceiling.

For more retreats check out Caspar Schols’ garden house which features a series of movable building components. Or, Nest, a tiny family cabin that overlooks Lake Superior. See all retreats.

Via Contemporist
Photos: Peter Clarke

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

1 Comment
  1. I like but question i would I have is the bathrow ceiling open to the air or is it covered with plexiglass. Does need paint on walls such as white, or ivory or use whitewash and possibly light blue on ceiling to really open it up. Have railings and curtains or vertical blinds for privacy and have glass wall reinforced glass or bulletproof glass to protect people visiting.