Dunvegan Case Study

This beautiful California inspired family home is a design that will stand the test of time


When deciding to finally build their own home, Steve and Andrea were determined to create their dream abode. As builders themselves, they’d been cautious with their previous house; knowing they wouldn’t be there forever, they designed with one eye on the market. But this time around, their team at Mati Constructions joined forces with Invilla Architecture for the ultimate passion project. 

“They weren’t prepared to compromise or add additional rooms and features just because of future resale,” says Michael Johnston, senior architect and director at Invilla Architecture. “This time around, they made it all about them.”


Opting to build in family-friendly Carindale, the chosen site boasted ample space and city views. Compared to most blocks in this part of town, it is also a fairly flat space. However, a subtle slope to the area meant some thinking — especially in order to meet their clients’ design brief. 

“They wanted to keep the block as flat as possible without altering the existing land too much to avoid retaining walls or ponding of water,” Michael explains. The driveway also needed to be as flat as possible to double as a sports area.”

A dual-level home was proposed, large enough to suit the family’s every need, but cleverly designed to take advantage of the block’s little quirks. 

Drawing inspiration from the sleekly modern Brentwood Park II, a Hollywood Hills home by California’s MLK STUDIO, the home would be a celebration of clean lines and warm neutrals. Think golden timber flooring, fresh whites, black accents, and soft brass finishes.

“We wanted the home to feel as light as possible, while maintaining warmth and a clean and modern space,” says Michael. “Our teams worked seamlessly together, creating a beautiful palette that makes sense from the front exterior through to the backyard, without overcomplicating it.”


Michael designed a space that would tick all the boxes for family living. Upstairs, four bedrooms are the family’s private quarters. The children’s bedrooms are tucked into the rear, the master suite is a parents’ retreat with its city views, walk-in robe, and luxurious ensuite. To fully indulge in those views, you’ll have to soak in the deep tub: it’s poised for the best glimpses of the cityscape out the window. 

Every eventuality has been considered: the west-facing ensuite’s soft sheer curtains take the heat out of Brisbane’s summer afternoons. The rooms echo a contemporary Cali aesthetic, with added interest thanks to a range of textures subtly infused into the design.

“It’s very subtle and cohesive,” says Michael. “It’s timeless, with a modern twist.” 

Sunlight filters through the downstairs living areas, with another bedroom, bathroom, and media room accompanying the open-plan kitchen and living areas. The focus on natural light was intentional, with each room placed with consideration of how sunbeams would dance through the space. Even the front door — a favourite of the Invilla team’s — was custom-made with this in mind. 

The eastern-facing kitchen is another favourite. “It’s a standout, particularly the beautiful ribbed profile which we have subtly matched with our tiles and some entry lighting.”

Understated with its stone benchtops and brass finishes, the kitchen is softened into an inviting hub with an archway leading into an extensive butler’s pantry. That arch detail is a gentle motif throughout the home, coaxing you to meander through each space. 

Storage is always a must in a family home; to ensure the custom cabinetry would fit seamlessly, the Invilla team turned to our longstanding collaborator, Danny of Cabinet Collective.

“Our main priorities were modern, light, and well-functioning,” says Michael. “Everything works so well in terms of usability and function. We consider cabinetry to be one of the most important aspects of any home, and Danny from Cabinet Collective always goes above and beyond,” says Michael.  

The great outdoors were always intended to take a starring role here, with Invilla and Mati Constructions turning to another favourite partner, Elizabeth Weyer Outdoor Design. To achieve spaces that work equally well for adults and children, Elizabeth created a summer-ready paradise complete with pool, outdoor fire pit, alfresco entertaining, and olive and lemon trees for a dash of Mediterranean magic. 

An outdoor shower offers privacy from the neighbours while still being a design feature in its own right — and there’s still plenty of room for kids to be kids.




A light, neutral colour palette is softened with curves, timber and flashes of greenery and brass.



Family friendly outdoor spaces include a pool, outdoor firepit and alfresco entertaining surrounded by beautiful olive and lemon trees.



The spaces are all about the natural light and warmth it brings. A neutral colour palette makes it easy to keep the space feeling fresh and modern.


Mati Constructions was able to bring this very personal project to life in just nine months (they couldn’t wait to come home!). It’s now a well-loved family residence, with its tumbled brick and hebel-clad exteriors a nod to the beautifully bespoke spaces that lie within.

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