Inside Out (Australia)
BEYOND THE BRIEF
How a NSW interior designer and her architect ended up building a home in three glorious parts
After living in a 1950s weatherboard cottage for some time, NSW Southern Highlands interior designer Jess Hunter and her husband Sam were set on a contemporary new build for their next family home. But finding a great block they could build on freely in the heritage township of Berrima proved challenging. To avoid compromising their dream, the couple found an empty block in 2017 and engaged Bowral-based architect
Tina Tziallas of Tziallas Architects, who came up with a clever design that met the local heritage requirements and gave them the new home they were after. In her plan, Tina placed a Georgian-style cottage at the front and linked it to two equally new pavilions, which met all the council’s criteria. “We were able to come up with the perfect balance on the outside,” she says. “And on the inside, we could do whatever we wanted!”
Another key part of the brief was a home that sat comfortably in the surrounding landscape and had a seamless indoor/outdoor flow. Tina achieved this by allowing a comfortable amount of room between the pavilions and blurring the boundaries between indoors and out. “This design has encouraged us to utilise and live on the whole property,” says Jess.
While Tina was busy synthesising traditional and contemporary architectural styles on the outside, Jess devised a clever scheme to link the interiors, using the same materials and a limited colour palette throughout.
“The pavilion design has encouraged us to utilise and live on the whole property, with no boundaries between indoors and out”
JESS HUNTER, INTERIOR DESIGNER/OWNER
“Many people think interior design follows the build, but working with the architect from the beginning creates a more cohesive result”
The pavilions focus on three areas: open-plan living, a parents’ retreat, and a kids’ zone. Robust polished-concrete flooring became the signature feature, and hydronic heating was installed to combat the chill of the winter months. Jess warmed her design visually with three main elements: Glosswood panelling (in the hallway), linen pendants from MRD Home (dotted about), and masses of floor-to-ceiling curtains (in every room), which immediately softened the place.
For the kitchen, Jess specified minimal joinery to create an even greater sense of openness. She chose practical Dekton Domoos Matte Nero for the benchtops and print-resistant black Laminex AbsoluteMatte fronts for the cabinetry. “There are lots of little fingers in our house,” she says, “and I didn’t want to be cleaning the cupboard doors a million times a day.”
Jess managed the build while working on numerous projects for her own business, and moved her family seven times during that time. Aside from that, she absolutely loved the process.
“I’d do it over and over again,” she says. “I’m very lucky that Sam trusts me because I really got to run with it.”
Working with an architect from the start of the project was key to the success of the build, she says. “Many people think interior design follows the build, but working with the architect on the floor plan and interiors from the beginning creates a more cohesive result. And that way, you can resolve any issues early on – from where the power and plumbing points are going, to furniture choices and any custom joinery that you may need. This can save a lot of time, money and stress. I also recommend buying major furniture and lighting pieces during the build in case the budget is tight at the end.”
Though the home has only one living area, there’s plenty of room for everybody to do their thing. Jess says it’s a very fluid space, mostly revolving around the kitchen. “We all move easily from indoors to out, be it prepping for a barbecue or setting up the fire pit, and the kids rollerskate on the concrete floors between the two – we love it.”
For more information on Jess’s work, visit jesshunterinteriors.com and her Instagram accounts @jesshunterinteriors or @_number_sixteen_. Tziallas Architects is at tziallasarchitects.com.au and @tziallas_architects
Describe the location of your home It’s in Berrima, a special part of the Southern Highlands. We’re out of the day-to-day busyness of Bowral, but on weekends we still get a nice amount of tourists visiting. Berrima has that old-town charm, and we love that the kids can walk to school, ride their bikes around the streets and get themselves to the local ice-cream shop.
Did some design plans or items change during the build, perhaps due to lack of space or budget?
As always in a build, something had to give, although we said the pool was never going to be that thing.
But of course it was; stage two was the pool!
Anything non-negotiable in your build? The cellar. It was the one thing Sam really wanted.
Best surprise discovery in your home? Our mainbedroom pavilion has become a sanctuary for me, because I can close it off and have quiet time away from my family when I need it. The other surprise element was the stream next door to us. The kids go exploring over there, they build their own structures and enjoy nature – I love that!
Like to share any cost-saving tips? We used Ikea wardrobes in the kids’ rooms instead of custom joinery.