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Private front facade gives way to openness and light at the rear of this new family home

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This contemporary home plays with wall planes and ceiling heights to create a dynamic interior that optimises natural light penetration and spaciousness

Private front facade gives way to openness and light at the rear of this new family home Discover this article's resources 0


Entering the front door of this modern home, visitors are struck by its spacious, open-plan interiors, flooded with natural light. However, with site constraints to address, designer Darren O'Neil had to make some dynamic architectural moves to create the relaxed, family-friendly feel.

O'Neil says while the design had to respond to issues like a limited frontage, a long, narrow site and steep shading angles in respect to the neighbours, it was never compromised by them.

"To give the home weight within the wider streetscape, I designed a private, almost abstract frontage that emphasises natural materials and strong rectilinear forms," says the designer.

The garage's cedar strip cladding forms one part of the facade while, to the right, board-formed concrete and a batten corner element combine on the front of the home proper. The extended garage soffit shelters the front door.

However, if the design is quite private and closed off to the street, it's quite a different experience when actually stepping into the interior.


"A vista extends from the front door right down the length of the long, relatively narrow home," says O'Neil. "And from the entertainer's kitchen right to the back of the residence, the home has strong links to the outdoors, including from the kitchen to the alfresco dining area and yard, which is also accessed from the lounge."

O'Neil used several strategies to facilitate the upper-level set backs needed to maintain the required shadow lines to the neighbours and also to maximise natural light penetration. These included strategically raising some ceilings, the use of high clerestory windows and even a glass ceiling on an upstairs hallway.

"The stepped ceiling heights create intimacy in some areas while optimising the main living area's sense of volume and light," says O'Neil.

Designer Emma Morris of Eterno Design was involved from the early stages and undertook the interior architecture and interior design.

"Our brief was to create a warm, welcoming interior that captures a sense of Scandinavian style – seen for example in the predominantly white walls and oak floors," Morris says. "The palette was chosen to enhance the home's strong architectural forms and also the interplay of light coming through the varying ceilings."

There are a number of character finishes, such as the textured concrete wall seen upon entry and the bespoke, dark-stained oak panelling to evoke cosiness in the winter or media room. And shutters were specified on tall narrow windows to bring a more architectural feel into the spaces.

"In fact, we added texture and interest in several ways," she says. "Another was with the custom Italian porcelain tile splashback in the scullery. This was also brought through into the powder room and master suite, for continuity.

"Maximising discreet storage was another requirement and this was addressed in every-thing from a walk-in drying room for the laundry to the dedicated floor-to-ceiling coat and shoe cupboards behind the hallway wall."

First published date: 16 February 2018

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Credit List

Designer Darren O'Neil, O'Neil Architecture
Interior architecture and design Emma Morris, Eterno Design
Builder JE Dean
Pool Shotcrete Spa & Pools, Niveau Pools
Cladding Weatherboards; concrete tilt slab panel by Rothcote
Roof Steel & Tube Plumbdek roofing, Ardex Butynol membrane
Window/door joinery Rylock Thermal
Main flooring Solid American oak timber with whitewash stain
Tiles Azjule Mutina tiles in scullery and powder room; mix of Marble Porcelain, Grey Armani and Azjule Mutina black porcelain mosaics in bathrooms
Kitchen manufacturer Bates Joinery
Kitchen cabinetry Base units and scullery – 2 pot matt lacquer; wall units, island panel and table – American oak, horizontal grain, grey oak stain
Cabinetry hardware Blum
Kitchen benchtops Island – Carrara marble; perimeter – Snow, from Trethewey Artisan Stone
Ovens Gaggenau, Gaggenau steam
Cooktop, warming draw Gaggenau
Rangehood Award power pack
Fridge, cooling drawer Fisher & Paykel
Vanity benchtop Solid American Oak
Vanity American Oak, quarter cut
Basins Top mounted from Plumbline
Taps Antonio Citterio single lever
Bathroom wall tiles Marble porcelain
Paint Resene
Heating Living Flame Eastside plasma gas fireplace
Lighting Bocci Lights in stairwell; Henge light over dining table; Artec lights in kitchen-dining area
Furniture Bespoke couch in Blue Velvet in media room; Henge Matisse Couch; Ro chair and footstool; dining table and dining chairs by David Shaw
Awards Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Winner