Nat­u­ral beauty

How an old weath­er­board made way for a flex­i­ble res­i­dence

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - robyn.wil­ Pic­tures Amanda Prior

When you’ve waited a long time for some­thing to hap­pen, ex­pec­ta­tions tend to run high. So imag­ine the sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion for the own­ers of this house who lived in a muchloved weath­er­board cot­tage on the semiru­ral site for more than 30 years be­fore tak­ing the plunge and re­build­ing.

Si­t­u­ated in an idyl­lic val­ley on the Cen­tral Coast, the own­ers hoped for a home on the 2ha prop­erty that would be large enough to com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date vis­it­ing chil­dren and grand­chil­dren but still feel cosy when they were on their own.

Given they had lived on the site for such a long time, they also wanted a home that would not look out of place in the land­scape and would be in the tra­di­tion of Aus­tralian coun­try dwellings.

Sea breezes

The gen­er­ous par­cel of land al­lowed ar­chi­tects David Walker and Justin Long to de­sign a house with a wide street frontage that took ad­van­tage of the avail­able so­lar ac­cess while also mak­ing the most of the views to the rear of the prop­erty.

The de­sign is made up of eight sep­a­rate pavil­ions con­nected by a cen­tral cor­ri­dor that acts as the “spine’’ of the house.

Along with pro­vid­ing am­ple sleep­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and liv­ing spa­ces, the ar­tic­u­lated na­ture of the de­sign has al­lowed for a se­ries of sun-filled in­ter­nal court­yards placed strate­gi­cally to al­low for cross ven­ti­la­tion.

Liv­ing and work­ing spa­ces have been po­si­tioned with ac­cess to north­ern light while the east-west ori­en­ta­tion of the house al­lows it to cap­ture north-easterly and south-easterly sea breezes.

De­spite its size, the own­ers wanted the house to re­flect its mod­est past so the sin­glelevel res­i­dence was de­signed with a skil­lion barn-like roof once typ­i­cal of the re­gion.

To cap it off, it was con­structed out of tim­ber and sand­stone.

Nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als

The at­ten­tion to de­sign ex­ter­nally has also been car­ried though in­ter­nally, cre­at­ing a home that works from the in­side out.

Michelle Latham is as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture firm Pike Withers who were en­gaged to fit out the house.

“The good thing about this pro­ject was the team was on board from the be­gin­ning of the de­sign,” Michelle says. “We have worked with Justin on a few projects now.”

While ar­chi­tects are typ­i­cally con­cerned with how a build­ing works with its site, Michelle says en­gag­ing in­te­rior de­sign­ers to fol­low the de­sign through is money well spent.

“It’s an ar­chi­tect’s job think­ing about the site and the as­pect so there’s a lot go­ing on,” she says.

An in­te­rior ar­chi­tect fo­cuses on how the house works from the in­side out, in­clud­ing help­ing rooms flow into each other.

It also al­lows spa­ces to be thor­oughly planned from the start, par­tic­u­larly cus­tomde­signed join­ery like book­cases, en­ter­tain­ment units and built-in seat­ing.

In this case, it’s another op­por­tu­nity to high­light the nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als used out­side by car­ry­ing them through the in­ter­nal spa­ces. Michelle says they opted for ex­posed sand­stone walls, Amer­i­can oak solid wood pan­elling, cala­catta mar­ble and stone floor­ing to cre­ate in­door spa­ces in har­mony with the nat­u­ral set­ting out­side.

Con­cern for the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment has gone be­yond aes­thet­ics, with so­lar­pow­ered hy­dronic heat­ing sys­tems warm­ing the pool, and run­ning the hot wa­ter sys­tem and un­der­floor heat­ing.

Un­der­ground and above ground rain­wa­ter tanks have a 30,000L ca­pac­ity while PV cells are in­te­grated into the roof.


Not sur­pris­ingly, this house works ex­cep­tion­ally well when ex­tended fam­ily come to stay.

To cre­ate the sense of in­ti­macy the own­ers de­sired when it was just the two of them at home, ceil­ing heights vary through­out the house.

“It has these beau­ti­ful high-pitched ceil­ings in some rooms so you have that sense of space but other rooms are more in­ti­mate so you don’t feel over­whelmed,” says Michelle. “It’s not a small house but it doesn’t feel that large.”

The sim­pli­fied pal­ette of warm tim­bers, sand­stone and stone in shades grey cre­ates a quiet, calm en­vi­ron­ment in keep­ing with its semiru­ral lo­ca­tion.

In­deed, Michelle says even these im­ages fail to do it jus­tice.

“It is much more beau­ti­ful than even the photos would sug­gest,” she says.

“It has a re­ally nice feel, even though it is a large home be­cause it is long and low and is nicely pro­por­tioned on the site.

“All the spa­ces flow quite seam­lessly to­gether.”

Warm hearted A free­stand­ing sand­stone fire­place sits in the liv­ing space. Thanks to good so­lar ori­en­ta­tion and the use of stone, the house is com­fort­ably warm for most of the year.

Built-in join­ery for stor­age and seat­ing en­sures an un­clut­tered look.

A sim­ple pal­ette of stone and tim­ber al­lows a splash of red to re­ally shine.

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