Mod­ern love

Herald Sun - Property - - FRONT PAGE -

FRANCES Cosway had long dreamt of own­ing a mod­ernist home. In par­tic­u­lar, she han­kered for a Kauf­mann-type house: one of those re­sort­style homes in Palm Springs, California, with white walls, plenty of right an­gles and a desert land­scape stretch­ing off into the dis­tance. She knew she and hus­band Neil Dicker would never find one in Mel­bourne’s Hamp­ton, so, in De­cem­ber 2014, they bought a block of land in­stead, de­mol­ished the run­down and rot­ting house on it, and set about build­ing their five-bed­room, three­bath­room dream home.

The dou­ble-storey mod­ern beauty has an ex­pan­sive liv­ing area and large study on the ground floor, with four bed­rooms up­stairs.

“We wanted a large block of at least 700sq m, and this is 766sq m,” said Ms Cosway, who runs her own in­te­rior-de­sign firm, White Peb­ble In­te­ri­ors.

“We wanted a good gar­den for the girls (Lil­lian, 5, and Mar­gaux, 6) and a veg­etable patch as well.”

The cou­ple also wanted to prove it was pos­si­ble to build a big mod­ern home that was both at­trac­tive and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able.

“Peo­ple think sus­tain­able means you’re go­ing to build a straw house or mud hut,” Ms Cosway said.

“We wanted to turn that on its head and show that you can build any style of house you want. It’s what goes into the home, the fix­tures and fit­tings you choose, that make it sus­tain­able.”

And theirs most cer­tainly is. The house won a Best Eco­log­i­cally Sus­tain­able De­sign Award from Bay­side City Council in 2015 and has a 7.3-star en­ergy rat­ing.

There are lou­vres that let the win­ter sun in and dur­ing sum­mer pre­vent the sun from touch­ing the glass, as well as high-ef­fi­ciency glaz­ing on the win­dows and doors.

The house is heav­ily in­su­lated through­out and, at lockup, the frame was air tight­ened for draught-proof­ing.

The cou­ple has in­stalled 17 so­lar roof pan­els, so­lar hot wa­ter, and a 20,000-litre un­der­ground tank for grey wa­ter.

Ms Cosway said one of the big draw­cards of build­ing from scratch was mak­ing the most of pas­sive so­lar de­sign.

“We have east at the front; northerly light com­ing on to the liv­ing ar­eas; and we have the west at the back of the house for the sun­sets,” Ms Cosway said.

“We have tiles in­stead of floor­boards in the liv­ing room and they have a ce­ment-based glue that max­imises ther­mal con­duc­tance. All the win­ter sun comes in and heats up to 60 per cent of the floor in the liv­ing area.”

Then there is the stun­ning nat­u­ral fresh­wa­ter pool at the back of the house, em­bed­ded in a na­tive gar­den with large boul­ders and drought-tol­er­ant plants.

“It’s ba­si­cally a wa­ter fea­ture you can swim in,” Ms Cosway said. “I love green wa­ter and my hus­band grew up near the Wan­non Falls, near Hamil­ton, so it was a sen­ti­men­tal thing. All the wa­terlilies come out in sum­mer and it’s just gor­geous.” On the dec­o­rat­ing front, Ms Cosway has spent a bit of time per­son­al­is­ing the space.

“My nat­u­ral style is very eclec­tic, and I think de­sign is about your per­sonal jour­ney and story,” she said. “You should go with your heart when choos­ing pieces.”

Hav­ing lived over­seas for 12 years, Ms Cosway has filled the house with cu­rios, artwork and fur­ni­ture brought back from Hol­land, Lon­don and Morocco.

“I love the geo­met­ric shapes of Moroc­can de­signs,”

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