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Stone, marble and timber underline a strong connection between indoors and outdoors in this waterfront home

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Our love of nature and the desire for an increasingly informal lifestyle continue to inspire homes that blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors.

Juxtaposing bold, contemporary forms and natural materials, architect Edwin Eames set out to create a family home that reflects a seamless transition between these two environments.

"I believe indoors and outdoors should be part of the same design experience with the total space read as one," he says.

Set on a sandy river bank, this house makes the most of the water views. The passing parade of boats, forced to detour around a sandbank on their way into Fremantle, adds colour and ambience to the outlook, says Eames.

"The river stretches out in front of a plunge pool conveying a strong feeling of water merging with water. Gold glass mosaic tiles on the floor of the pool glimmer like jewellery in the sunlight."

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A 25m lap pool extends the length of the house, giving shelter and privacy to a lower courtyard that includes a spa pool.

Featuring a strong, linear look, the double-storey house has a flat roof to comply with the site's height restrictions. A section of the roof is cantilevered to shade the deck that adjoins the family room and plunge pool.

Toodyay stone pillars and eaves lined in western red cedar provide relief to the home's white concrete façade.

"These natural materials soften an otherwise clinical building, giving it a sense of emotional warmth," says Eames.

Strong winds and salt-laden air come with the home's setting by a river near the ocean. To withstand these conditions, the house is made of reinforced concrete teamed with double anodised aluminium. Structural stainless steel work has been polished to a marine finish.

In designing the home's floor plan, Eames aimed to create a series of warm, comfortable living spaces for his family that maintained a strong connection to the outdoors. To achieve this, he reproduced many materials found on the exterior of the house throughout the interior, teaming them with vibrantly coloured feature walls.

Living spaces wrap around pillars of Toodyay stone, which provide textured, tangible backdrops. Timber coffers on the ceilings enhance a sense of height and conceal electrical services. The grid pattern and colour variation of the travertine flooring subtly echo the rectilinear scale of the house. Expansive sheets of glass, with only mandatory structural supports, replace conventional windows.

In the open-plan living area, glass sliding doors stay permanently open, connecting the loggia as an integral outdoor room. Its seamless flow from the dining room is emphasised by travertine floors, a wall of Toodyay stone and a timber ceiling. The ceiling was kept deliberately lower in this part of the home to control the impact of the northern sun and evoke a sense of intimacy.

A vaulted ceiling studded with skylights creates rhythm and visual complexity in the kitchen, Eames says.

Designed for a family that likes to entertain frequently, the kitchen features a walk-in freezer, plenty of bench space and a large cooking range. An upstand made of Italian sandstone conceals clutter in the kitchen, and also forms a fireplace and niche shelving in the adjoining dining room.

A cantilevered staircase with travertine treads, stainless steel balustrades and timber handrails wraps around stone pillars. Its delicate form contrasts the structural strength represented by the stone, emphasising its solidity, says the architect.

The private spaces of the home are all located on the upper level. Facing the river, the master bedroom incorporates a study, a bathroom and a dressing room, as well as a lounge – Eames' alternative to having a separate parents' retreat.

"Large windows throughout the upper-level spaces capture the horizontal aspects of the river, giving an effect similar to a David Lean panavision film landscape," says Eames.

First published date: 24 August 2003

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Credit List

Architect Edwin Eames, Eames & Associates (Perth)
Structural engineer BPA
Mechanical engineer SM Engineering
Electrical engineer Ian Mawdsley
Builder Trevor Wenham
Kitchen manufacturer Customform
Window/door joinery Architectural Aluminium
Window/door hardware Gainsborough from Parker Black & Forrest
Roof Concrete
Tiling Arca
Pool tiles Attica
Flooring Natural stone and travertine from Arca
Paints Dulux
Furniture Patrick Armour Interiors
Kitchen cabinets Cherry veneer by Customform
Benchtops/splashback Pietra Lavica granite from Arca
Sink and taps Caroma
Oven, hob and ventilation Ilve
Microwave Smeg
Refrigerator Westinghouse
Dishwasher Asko
Bathroom window treatments Silent Gliss by Designed Blinds
Basin Kohler
Bath Caroma