A Timber-Clad Home in Australia Is a Striking Place to Grow Old In

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By Melissa Dalton
At first glance, the dramatic facade of this coastal home in Victoria, Australia, might seem to contradict its name—Humble House—yet a closer look reveals its livability for an older couple who frequently travel.

According to the firm, Coy Yiontis Architects, "the building form was driven by site conditions and the need for accessibility and ease of maintenance." The steeply-pitched roof, while arresting, also acts as a screen to the western neighbors, whose two-story building threatened to overshadow the lot. The rest of the home elegantly tackles several aging-in-place strategies for the older homeowners. There are no steps from the front door to the back garden, maintaining an accommodating single level. A bedroom suite thoughtfully located near the entry can house a live-in caretaker, should one ever become needed.     

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Since the homeowners downsized from a rural homestead, and as they're avid travelers, the architects made sure to incorporate niches to display important mementos. To that end, they carved out a spot for a stately grandfather clock in the foyer, as well as a custom recess in the living room woodwork for oars embossed with the family name.  

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Throughout the design, special attention was paid to how the clients move throughout their day. A discreet built-in bench by the front door is an unobtrusive seat for removing shoes, and a convenient outdoor shower can rinse sand from feet. A "secret hatch" in the garage conveys grocery bags from the trunk of the car to the pantry inside. Wired amenities like hydronic heating and electronic blinds facilitate comfort at the touch of a button. It is just such consideration of modest daily habits that ultimately lets the house live up to its name.

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