Designed by Melbourne’s Hearth Studio and lovingly adorned with pieces from artists, designers and makers; Slow Beam luxury accommodation champions Hobart’s bounty.
After prowling around MONA, wassailing the apple trees at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest or simply roaming through Hobart’s lanes and alleys (and discovering food and drink delights), wouldn’t it be wonderful to retreat to one’s own, warm nest?
Slow Beam is that retreat. Cut into a steep, rocky hill in West Hobart, the enigmatically-named Slow Beam is a pair of interconnected black boxes, accessed by a long, curved drive. Photographer Lauren, and Keith, a musician, built Slow Beam for themselves, had a baby, then found they were settled in Melbourne. They now offer Slow Beam as luxury guest accommodation.
Lauren wants staying at Slow Beam to be enduringly “peaceful, surprising and relaxing”; Keith describes it as “out of the ordinary, unique, dark and moody … modern, sophisticated shapes in a bush setting”. They worked with architect Sarah Trotter at Hearth Studio to produce a series of spaces in which guests can truly unwind and detach. Hearth Studio’s ethos, to be “responsive – to the client, brief and context; and sensitive – to light, tactility, colour and materiality” is clearly evident in Slow Beam’s refined forms and connection with its tree-filled site.
Many of the fittings and furniture pieces were sourced by Lauren, whose aim is to support artist, designer and maker friends in Melbourne and Tasmania. Her photographer’s eye ensures the spaces are beautifully curated and lit; Slow Beam will also be used for photo shoots and dining events. The stunning Esther Stewartdesigned, geometric carpet in the living room is a one-off piece made by Halcyon Lake. The strong colours in the carpet are picked up in the Featherston armchairs and chaise, and the sublimely comfortable Ligne Roset couch. As this is a shoe-free house, the carpet is lovely to sink one’s feet into after a day of tramping around the city.
In contrast, the sleek, deceptively simple kitchen is charcoalgrey to match the Victorian bluestone on the floor, and heated by a small wood stove. The floor is surprisingly warm, even on the coldest day, and the black-stained timber cupboards and the central concrete bench merge into the walls. Everything a guest needs is here: Fisher & Paykel dishwasher, freezer and refrigerator drawers, washer and dryer. The aim of Slow Beam is for self-sufficiency in supplies, deliberately sourced from local or Tasmanian suppliers. For example, Knocklofty gin is distilled, literally, around the corner and Cape Grim Water, from the wild, cold north-west of the state, is waiting in the fridge. Once you get here you won’t want, or need, to leave … and that is the owners’ intent.
Upstairs the mood is softer, dreamier, with a more muted colour palette. The bathroom, with its view out to the bush, is seductively calm. Lauren spent time seeking what she calls “really beautiful stuff” made by “skilled creatives”. This includes the “lush” Kingsized bed, crafted by her builder father-in-law and complemented by 100 per cent linen, “as it feels amazing, and not something you will find in a hotel”. Another concession to “amazingness” is the SONOS wireless sound system in the living room, and portables for every other room.
In addition to the basic how to’s for the house, Slow Beam’s ‘Welcome Pack’ includes suggestions of Lauren and Keith’s favourite places to eat out, “from breakfast, to pub meals, to a bit fancy”. Hobart is a foodie’s paradise, with its focus on seasonal food, a fabulous weekly farmers’ market and brilliant chefs fleeing to Tasmania from the “big island”. They also list places of interest within walking distance. As there is so much going on in Hobart, all-year round, they will keep the Pack, and the Slow Beam website, regularly updated.
As Keith notes, where in Melbourne, or another major city, could you find a bush site like this so close to the inner city? What he thought was a shadow on the driveway a few days earlier turned out to be a wallaby, and while we are admiring the stunning views from the full-length, simply-framed windows, a trio of yellowtailed black cockatoos glides slowly between gum trees in the valley below. Slow Beam feels a million miles away from anything: a safe, luxurious and warm retreat, up in the tree canopy, and filled with objects to delight the hand and eye.