Turn­ing inside out

You won’t be­lieve what in­spired this re­design

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - Pic­tures Tom Fer­gu­son

Ja­panese de­sign may not be the first thing you would think of for re-imag­in­ing an old home in a coun­try town. How­ever, for one cou­ple down­siz­ing from a larger prop­erty out­side Orange in the NSW Cen­tral West, it was ev­ery­thing they wanted out of their ren­o­va­tion.

Lo­cal ar­chi­tect Sally Suther­land from Source Ar­chi­tects says the cou­ple travel reg­u­larly to Ja­pan and love the de­sign sen­si­bil­ity and con­nec­tion to na­ture.

“In par­tic­u­lar, they wanted a Ja­panese bath, which was dis­cussed in the very first meet­ing,” Sally says.

North­ern ex­po­sure

As it stood, the three-bed­room house close to the cen­tre of town was in good con­di­tion.

Po­si­tioned in a con­ser­va­tion area in Orange, it sat on a long, nar­row block with the side of the house fac­ing north. There were just a few prob­lems that needed to be ad­dressed.

“The ex­ist­ing house only had one north­ern win­dow,” Sally says.

“It had an ex­ten­sion at the rear but it didn’t make the most of the light. The toi­let was also out the back — the bath­room had a basin, shower and bath but there was no toi­let.”

Sally and part­ner David Suther­land’s plan was to main­tain the three ex­ist­ing bed­rooms at the front and add a study.

While the house takes up most of the width of the block from the front, Sally de­signed it to step back from the bound­ary fur­ther down the block, of­fer­ing ex­po­sure to the north­ern light.

This is the lo­ca­tion of the new open-plan kitchen, din­ing and liv­ing area, with large win­dows and door­ways al­low­ing light to flood into the space.

While most of the orig­i­nal house has floor­boards and car­pet, they opted for con­crete to cre­ate ther­mal mass which would help main­tain even tem­per­a­tures in­doors.

Hy­dronic heat­ing — where hot wa­ter is pushed through pipes set into the floor — keeps the house warm over cold win­ter nights. “There are two (con­crete) slabs,” says Sally. “There’s the work­ing slab and then there’s an in­su­la­tion layer and the hy­dron­ics are on top of that.”

A sec­ond slab is then laid and heat trav­els through to the top slab to warm the space.

Hy­dron­ics were also used in the con­crete and fi­bre­glass Ja­panese bath, which is so deep, it has a ledge to sit on.

Turn­ing Ja­panese

Sally says in­te­grat­ing Ja­panese de­sign prin­ci­ples into the house and gar­den was key to the suc­cess of the project.

“We were mind­ful of not just copy­ing Ja­panese style be­cause we didn’t want it to be a lit­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tion,” says Sally. “There’s a hint of it but it’s not over­pow­er­ing. “We didn’t want it to be ob­vi­ous.” Once you are aware of it, you can see el­e­ments of this style in the use of tim­ber which, in some parts of the house, is rem­i­nis­cent of Ja­panese screens.

The gar­den also re­flects the Ja­panese

ap­proach to land­scape, with rocks se­lected and placed to rep­re­sent the moun­tains and a mix of plants na­tive to Aus­tralia and Asia.

“The gar­den has some plant­ings from Aus­tralia but Orange is the per­fect cli­mate for plants like camel­lias and maples,” Sally says.

“We trans­planted a Ja­panese maple from their old house — it was planted by her fa­ther some time ago so she wanted to keep it.”

Sally says the clients were happy to leave the con­struc­tion phase to them.

“They took a hol­i­day to Ja­pan dur­ing con­struc­tion but we kept them up to date.”

The side of the house com­pletely opens up to the north, with seam­less con­nec­tion to the gar­den, which is a gen­tle nod to Ja­panese land­scap­ing.

The front fa­cade was left vir­tu­ally un­touched, in keep­ing with the her­itage val­ues of the street.

One mem­ber of the fam­ily al­ready un­der­stands the ben­e­fits of the un­der­floor heat­ing.

The Ja­panese-style bath was a high pri­or­ity for the own­ers.

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