A passion for Australian art melds with a love of wide open spaces. By Lucy Feagins.

James and Imogen Tutton’s Mornington Peninsula home

James Tutton is a social entrepreneur and serial overachiever. After founding Melbourne’s Moonlight Cinema in 1996, and subsequently selling it in 2006, James turned his attention to a range of social and business ventures. In addition to his role as a director at Melbourne property development company Neometro, James is involved in Neometro’s social ventures – the community garden initiative 3000 Acres, exhibition space Slopes, and online publication Open Journal. James is also co-founder of Smiling Mind – a digital meditation app and online resource for young people – and is a founding board member of the micro-donation platform Shout for Good, which he launched last year. James and Imogen Tutton built their house on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula three years ago. Originally conceived as a weekender, plans quickly changed as the house took shape, and before long the Tutton family had restructured their lives to create a permanent home there. With a long-held affection for Byron Bay, the Mornington Peninsula offered this busy family a similar lifestyle, and a happy compromise. The house itself is a simple modernist structure, designed in collaboration with the team at Neometro. It’s an impressive presence within the landscape, cantilevering elegantly over a man-made lake. Constructed around a central open-plan living space, the home is efficiently designed and functional. Every room is used daily. Both the home and the surrounding property are peppered with personal flourishes that speak of James’s and Imogen’s respective passions. James’s passion for Australian art is evident. Favourite acquisitions include a Thomas Jeppe painting recently purchased at Utopian Slumps, an Adam Cullen painting and a Mike Parr work, which James says connects him with insanity – “not of a bad kind, but a joyous and free madness”. Imogen, an equestrian with a background in law, arts and horticulture, was keen to train just metres from home so quickly set to work outside, establishing stables and a training arena for her horses. When asked what he loves most about living here, James is unequivocal. “Horizon is important,” he says. “I love an urban context, but also feel the joy and privilege of being able to look onto water, paddocks and vines – not another person or built form in sight. It is something that comes slowly to you, over years. When you reach a point where that’s part of your consciousness, it becomes near impossible to let it go.”

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 8, 2014 as "James and Imogen Tutton’s Mornington Peninsula home".

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Lucy Feagins is founder and editor of The Design Files. She is The Saturday Paper’s interiors editor.

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