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With its black tiled base, black timber cladding and green perforated mesh screens, this new beach house blends into the dune landscape

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Memories of endless childhoodsummers can stay with us forever – the simple beach cottage, campfires on the beach. It's a far-reaching nostalgia that can determine where we live in later life, and the design of our homes.

This new house, designed and owned by Perth architect Paul Jones and his wife Clair Medhurst, was strongly influenced by such memories. The mix of materials, and the sense that it has been added onto over the years, give it an organic feel that is in keeping with its beachside setting.

But the location also influenced the design in other ways, says Jones.

"The weather can be harsh, with strong winds and big waves during a storm, so the house had to be robust," he says. "There were also strict local government regulations relating to height, which needed to be taken into account. These factors helped determine the final shape of the house."

The height of the sand dunes meant the house needed to rise to three storeys to provide the best ocean view. To meet the height-to-boundary restrictions while still providing the maximum amount of floor space, a curved roof was incorporated. This had the added advantage of providing a loft-style living area.

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Visually, both the house and the landscaping acknowledge the wind-swept beach setting. The solid base of the house features black tiles that complement the vegetation on the sand dunes. Upper floors feature black timber boards, laid both vertically and horizontally.

"We wanted to retain the character of a traditional beach property, so there are strong beach shack elements in the choice of materials," says Jones.

The front landscaping also relates to the sand dunes, with grasses and succulents interspersed between a concrete path that winds through the dunes to the door. In the more sheltered back yard, mature trees include pohutukawas, Canary Island palms and frangipani.

"The trees give order, shape and bulk to the garden, says Jones. "But the suggestion of a beach shack is also evident here – there's the obligatory barbecue, outdoor shower and a place for fishing rods."

From the front entrance, stairs lead up to the main living areas. The stairs feature perforated stainless steel mesh balustrades and smooth jarrah handrails, moulded to the shape of the hand.

"The stainless steel mesh creates a nautical flavour, and there's the added visual interest of the snaking timber rail that journeys down the stairwell," says Jones. "The library at the first-floor level is a nice pause point."

A guest suite, bathroom and office are also positioned on this floor, while the top floor accommodates the main living areas and master bedroom suite.

"The top level is virtually a self-contained apartment," says Jones. "The stairwell is the vertical element that links it all together."

The stairwell also introduces light down through the house and acts as a thermal chimney, providing natural ventilation. Hot air rises and is vented through louvres at the top of the house.

As with the guest room on the first floor, the open-plan living area and master bedroom open to a large deck, which features copper mesh screens.

"The house is oriented to the west," says Jones. "The strongest winds are from this direction, and also the harshest heat load. The copper screens can be opened or closed, depending on the weather and the direction of the wind. They also provide privacy from the busy beachfront, yet are easy to see through from inside."

Jones says copper was chosen for its low-maintenance properties.

"We also like the fact that it will age to a verdigris colour, similar to the coastal vegetation. The whole house is designed to age gradually – to be camouflaged within the natural landscape."

Colours within the house also take their cue from the surroundings – the dunes, the ocean and the limestone cliffs.

Jarrah floors enhance the casual feel of the interior – the wide boards are from a demolished Fremantle warehouse.

The café-style kitchen also features jarrah, mixed with stainless steel and glass. Dormer windows bring northern light inside and aid ventilation.

"In addition, concealed uplights bounce light off the curved roof, highlighting the work area," says Jones. "This provides a degree of intimacy while still retaining the overall lofty feel."

First published date: 28 June 2005

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Credit List

Architect and landscape design Paul Jones, RAIA, RIBA, Jones Coulter Young (Perth)
Main contractor Loxam Developments
Landscape construction Paul Brett
Trees Arbor Centre
Planting Frank O'Brien and owners
Cladding Painted pine weatherboards and copper screens
Roof Colorbond Seaspray from Wesroof
External window and door joinery Exclusive Aluminium
Interior joinery A&M Joinery
Window and door hardware Supplied by Parker, Black and Forrest
Flooring Recycled jarrah, finished by Chris Bestall
Wall panelling Budget Cabinets
Paints Dulux; Aalto Colour
Built-in lighting Masson from Environmental Lighting
Air conditioning Daikin from Ford & Doonan
Wood heater Jotul
Living and dining furniture Baileys
Balcony screens Perforated copper designed by Paul Jones
Screen hinges Henderson Hinges
Kitchen cabinets Zinc and Ribbed Charcoal Laminex, built by Budget Cabinets
Benchtops Corian from Perth Solid Surfaces
Splashback Colourback glass from Pilkington
Cooker De'Longhi
Refrigerator Whirlpool
Ventilation Qasair
Dishwasher AEG
Sink Franke from Galvins
Kitchen taps Kludi from Galvins
Bathroom vanity cabinetry Budget Cabinets
Tiles Palio Blanco from Interceramics
Basin LIano from Galvins
Bathroom taps Kludi from Galvins Main photography by Kallan MacLeod Image of rear of house by Michael Conroy