How an old weatherboard made way for a flexible residence
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.
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.
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.”
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.