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Nature’s Best Friend


As the world becomes more environmentally conscience when designing a home, developing the ability to blend a structure into its surrounding nature becomes imperative from both a design and structure perspective. A high-country home is the ultimate answer. Not only a design that seamlessly blends into nature but incorporates nature into every aspect of the home, through materials and structural choices. With a desire to learn all the bells and whistles of a high-country home, Melbourne Home Design & Living’s Saturne Roberts sits down with Shannon Connell, director of Riverwolf Homes, to discuss.

With more than 20 years of experience, Riverwolf Homes has cultivated a reputation for exceeding industry standards, promoting philanthropy and possessing an extensive skillset honed over the years. With the company’s focus being on custom high-country homes, Riverwolf Homes’ Director, Shannon Connell, is the expert to talk to. Connell has a passion and drive for custom builds, particularly high-country homes. With experience in crafting meticulously planned homes that are durable without compromising on style, Connell guarantees that every project is centered around the clients’ desires and the ability of trusted tradespeople. However, Connell says that the real reason his company is the leader in the industry is because he pushes the company to thrive under the mindset “anything is achievable”, which is demonstrated through the company’s portfolio of projects. It is not only an effective mindset, but essential in developing a high-country home that is update on the latest trends and innovative technology. Connell says that his perspective “infuses our work with a unique blend of determination, creativity and a genuine enjoyment of the construction process.


A high-country home is a distinctive dwelling that blends robust construction methods, such as rammed earth, stone walls and durable standing seam and timber claddings, with a naturalistic design. A high-country home is categorised by its rugged durability, luxury living and rustic aesthetic combining to create a seamless home in touch with its surroundings. Connell states that a high-country home is characterised by “the harmonious relationship between the built environment and the natural world.” Materials often used in the construction of high-country homes are of natural origin to both reinforce the structure and natural-focused design. The distinct materials help categorise the home as high country because of both its natural aesthetic and origin. These materials include: natural stone, which is not only durable but termite resistant and has exceptional thermal mass; rammed earth, which shares properties with the stone but is more feasible in difficult terrain; steel (often Colourbond standing seams in a variety of colours) to offer luxury and seamless integration with the surrounding environment; and select timber species, which add warmth and character to create the perfect balance of rustic charm with sturdy construction.


High-country homes offer more than just structural sturdiness and a nature-based design; it offers an open and breathable space through the incorporation of natural materials and a design that seamlessly blends in with its surrounding environment, creating an oasis of tranquillity and connectedness. Connell says that a high-country home “goes beyond being just a residence; it becomes a sanctuary where one can experience the seasons of birth, growth, rest and release.” When it comes to custom high-country homes, the vision or needs of the client become vital in producing a space that not only is mindful of its carbon footprint, but has versatile housing options. Whether it be a couple seeking a small retreat, or a larger family home with panoramic views of a farm, ocean or natural parklands, it is not only achievable but will exceed expectations.


From a designer’s perspective, achieving harmony in furnishing and décor for this type of house involves striking a delicate balance. Incorporating rustic, natural timbers in tables, chairs and lamp stands complements the high-country aesthetic, infusing warmth and authenticity into the space. To soften the overall ambiance, Connell says to “consider options, like sheer curtains, that allow natural light to filter through, creating an inviting atmosphere”. The unique elements of a high-country home extend beyond its physical attributes; it’s about embracing the intrinsic beauty embedded in the pure elements of nature. Timber possesses beautiful graining that strengthens the wood and is a stunning addition to any aspect of a home – interior or exterior. Stone adds thermal protection, strong foundations and a pale smooth finish to any fireplace or feature wall. Rammed earth also adds thermal protection but is more affordable and transportable, with a flair for style. Nature is beautiful and, when integrated into the very foundations of a home, offers beauty and durability to any weather or condition. Connell explains his stance on balancing the elements chosen for the home and décor, saying, “The key is to blend elements that echo the rugged charm of the surroundings with those that enhance comfort and relaxation, resulting in a cohesive and visually pleasing interior.”


At Riverwolf Homes, sustainability, durability and connection are the most important aspects of home builds. With the use of natural materials, the carbon footprint of the homes is lessened, which for environmentally conscience people is a huge plus. Materials like timber, rammed earth, steel and stone are durable, therefore the longevity of the home is increased with no compromise on aesthetics. Connell reassures that Riverwolf Homes often utilise these materials because the company “prioritises longevity, ensuring that components don’t need frequent replacement. Mitigating condensation is crucial in these environments, influencing every step of the building process.” High-country homes are the ultimate choice for a house that blends undisturbed environment with natural materials for design and structural integrity. By incorporating these features, high-country homes embody a commitment to sustainability, durability and environmental responsibility.

Images courtesy of Riverwolf Homes


LouvreTec Melbourne
Images curtesy of Riverwolf Homes