A Merchant Builder Home on the Mornington Peninsula

Images by Kate Shanasy

This week on the IN BED Journal we meet Diane Mattingley the founder of nunchi; an essential oils brand founded on the deep connection between scent and mood. Diane lives with her husband Trevor and dog Chilli in the seaside town of Portsea, Victoria. During the pandemic the couple made the decision to turn their weekender in Portsea into their full-time home and embraced the sea-change and connection to nature that the location affords wholeheartedly. We spoke to Diane about bringing the 1970s home to life with a few minor restorations, her personal collection of art, and building nunchi through meaningful collaboration.

Diane’s bed is dressed in  IN BED 100% linen in Lilac & Khaki with a 100% organic & recycled cotton cord cushion in Caramel.

“We purchased this property twenty years ago and it is positioned adjacent to the national park at Portsea back beach. It really was a hidden treasure as the house was totally overgrown with plants that covered all the windows. We had a view out to Port Philip Bay but there was a window out to the west that was covered with an outdoor blind, because we knew the area well we realized this window was hiding a view to the ocean and nightly sunsets.”

“The house is an original merchant builder home and the architect was Graeme Gunn, a recognized leader of contemporary design and architecture in Melbourne. This design was used as a template for many homes built in the 70’s, they are simple and the floor plan just works. Lots of timber, cathedral ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. After spending time living in the house we decided we loved it just the way it was and chose to only make minimal changes. Our priority was to access this hidden ocean view. Our solution was to build a large balcony out to the west and north where we can now spend time enjoying long summer evenings with our family watching the sun go down over the ocean.”

Diane wears an IN BED 100% linen apron in khaki.

“It is this proximity to both the bay and the ocean beaches that we love most about this place. We can hear the constant sound of the ocean and watch the storms as they come across the water. Our life revolves around the beach and spending time with family, especially in summer, swimming, supping, surfing and long walks with our dog Chilli.”

It is this proximity to both the bay and the ocean beaches that we love most about this place.

Our bedroom is my favourite room in the house. It has large floor to ceiling windows facing east and north so it really shines in the mornings. We can even watch the sunrise from our bed. At night I can hear the distant throbbing of ships engines and I love to watch the Tassie Ferry pass by, all lit up like a Christmas tree. I have a shipping app on my phone so I can track the movement of the ships as they come through the heads and enter the bay on their way to Port Melbourne.”

“The room has a pitched timber ceiling that gives it a warm but spacious feel and we absolutely love the pendant lamps that hang beside our bed. All the lighting in the house is original, we haven’t needed to change anything.”

“My husband and I love to collect things when we travel. Recently we have been spending time in Australia’s Central Desert region as our daughter is living in Alice Springs. We purchased some beautiful art works from the Papunya Tula Gallery knowing that 100% of profits go to the artist. We never tire of these pieces.”

“I also have been enjoying collecting art pieces from local artists that I have worked with over the last year. A painting from Hannah Nowlan, hangs in my bedroom and has such a deep connection to the ocean beaches where we live, I love waking up to it each morning. I also have a photographic piece from Bri Horne from her recent exhibition called ‘Coming Home’ an exploration of time spent in solitude and a deep connection to nature and the ocean during lockdown in 2020.”

“Something I treasure deeply is a small woven basket that I made from vines that were growing over the wreckage of a light plane in which my brother was killed. This wreckage lies at the top of Mt. William near Cairns amongst dense rainforest. My family and I hiked up to this wreckage on the 30 year anniversary of this crash which was such a life changing pilgrimage. I pulled the vines from the wreckage and took them with me to Byron Bay where I sat on a balcony and weaved this basket.”

On Diane’s kitchen counter is an IN BED 100% linen tea towel in Navy Gingham.

“Because I am in my 60’s my career path is long and varied. Starting off as a teacher, then choosing to work in my husband’s graphic design business as it was a perfect job to have as I raised my family. It was here that I developed a love of watching brands being developed and the whole design process.”

“Following a serious mental health breakdown I needed to explore ways of staying well. This led me to complete a course in holistic counseling and become a yoga and meditation teacher. The practice of mindfulness was my go to, using it as I went on my daily walks and throughout each day. I also became interested in essential oils and the link between scent and emotions. I began experimenting with different blends and I used these myself as a way to take calming moments in my day. I thought, if this is helping me, maybe it could help others, so I used the skills I developed in years of working amongst designers and launched nunchi oils.”

“I am constantly immersed in beautiful scents. Each oil has its own unique personality and I love that. Even the scent of lavender which is so familiar and old fashioned still delights me. I will always pick a lavender flower on my walks to enjoy the scent. I also love the creative process of blending the oils. It is really an intuitive process where I just know when a combination works. It is a slow process and I often sit with a scent for a long period of time before I work it into my offerings.”

“I am beginning to plant a scented garden outside my studio and I hope to begin to make some of my own oils in a very small way. At the moment I can use these plants to make herbal teas that are so cleansing and refreshing.”

I love to collaborate with others and a project I worked on last year, over our long lockdowns with artist Hannah Nowlan was so inspirational. I took Hannah on an exploration of the local wild ocean beaches that could only be accessed through a cave at low tide. We used this landscape as our inspiration for a perfumed oil that we named ‘Aeaea’. We then chose to place this oil in a handmade ceramic vessel, crafted by Kristin Olds, that looks like it has been washed ashore by the ocean. This perfume, the vessel and a print of Hannah’s painting titled ‘aeaea’ are now sold as a beautiful unique offering.”

“We only made Portsea our permanent residence during the covid lockdowns, however this area has always been a part of my life and I feel very connected to it. The beaches and all the different walks are my favourite part of living here. Each day I decide on where I will walk with Chilli. I have so many different circuits that I do, front beach, back beach, into town or exploring the sandy unsealed back streets. Trev and I also love to ride our bikes into Point Nepean National Park to the opening of Port Philip Bay. If we do this on sunsets we get to meet the local wallabies that live here.”

We only made Portsea our permanent residence during the covid lockdowns, however this area has always been a part of my life.

“Our favourite places to eat are the local pubs. On a warm summer's night Portsea Hotel probably has one of the best beer gardens in the world, where you look over the bay and watch the ships pass by. In winter we enjoy the Sorrento Hotel for its warm cosy open fire, good food and friendly owners. We also love to visit the local wineries in Redhill, Montalto being our go to for family birthdays and celebrations.

“I have recently discovered an incredible local yoga studio, Ocean Beach Yoga, the space looks out over the national park and Maggie the owner is an incredible teacher and always makes me feel so welcome.”

“[For the rest of the year] I am excited about sharing my love of essential oils and the connection between scent and emotions with others through small workshops. This connects my love of teaching with my love of scent and bringing people together.”

“My husband and I will also be taking an extended holiday to drive all the way to Darwin to explore Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, then across to the East coast to spend some time camping on the central Coast of NSW.  An escape from our long Melbourne winter. I also always look forward to summer when we get to share our home with all the family.”

Diane’s bed is dressed in  IN BED 100% linen in Lilac & Khaki with a 100% organic & recycled cotton cord cushion in Caramel.