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Alfresco lifestyle

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To maximise a great view and improve the flow of both indoor and outdoor spaces, Don Nelson & Associates extended this home in several directions

Alfresco lifestyle


Many older homes are blessed with a beautiful site – it's often north-facing, gently sloping and affords a wonderful view. But the design of these homes doesn't always make the best use of the natural surroundings.

Such was the case with the clifftop home featured here. Originally a brick-and-tile residence with a Spanish influence, the house was not designed for modern living. While there were large picture windows to take advantage of the sea view, the house did not have an open-plan layout or a good indoor-outdoor flow.

The owners commissioned Don Nelson & Associates to revamp the house to better suit their needs. As well as creating a large open-plan family living area, the design team needed to modernise the overall look of the house, says Don Nelson.

"We worked within the existing framework, designing subtle additions, curved walls, and plenty of glazing to take advantage of the views," he says.

From the entrance, the contemporary Mediterranean influence is readily seen. A new porte cochère, which incorporates a tall column with a gas flare, provides a dramatic entrance. At night, outdoor lighting adds to the drama.


Once inside the front door, guests can look down through the house to the pool area and views beyond.

"There's a direct line of sight that creates a sense of anticipation," says Nelson.

The ground floor of the house was extended to incorporate a TV room, piano room, several living areas, a new ultra-modern kitchen, and guest rooms with their own ensuite bathrooms. All these rooms open out to private courtyards or balconies.

A change in levels on this floor enhances the grandeur of the home, and helps define the separate living areas within the overall open-plan space.

The sense of grandeur is reinforced by a curved staircase that leads to the first-floor rooms. New additions on this floor include an extension to the master bedroom, a guest room and an office. The main ensuite incorporates a large curved spa bath, positioned to take advantage of the views.

Floor-to-ceiling glass is a feature of most rooms. Balcony balustrading is also glazed to provide uninterrupted views.

Nelson says much of the family living and alfresco entertaining now takes place on the new north-facing patio that overlooks the sea, the lawn, and two pools, including a new infinity-edge pool.

From this perspective, the sweeping curves of the roof overhangs provide a strong visual impact. Cut-outs in the roof allow glimpses of sunlight to penetrate the patio. Here, also, tall columns define the different segments of the original house and establish a visual rhythm that helps to unify the new facade.

Don Nelson & Associates specialises in both renovation and new home design.For further details, contact Don Nelson & Associates, phone (09) 486 4698, fax (09) 489 6447, mobile 027 496 7450. Email: Or visit the .

First published date: 05 July 2005

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