Book Lovers, Bookmark This Australian Home Designed For Aging in Place

Book Lovers, Bookmark This Australian Home Designed For Aging in Place

By Melissa Dalton
Vokes and Peters fashions a Byron Bay residence for a pair of avid readers and art collectors that “celebrates the pleasure of books, art, and rituals of daily life.”

For their suburban plot near a coastal, dune-and-wetland reserve in Byron Bay, Australia, the clients approached Vokes and Peters to design a modest, one-level home in which they could easily age in place. As the cofounders and former chair of the Byron Writers Festival, the owners also sought to engage with their vast book collection. To that end, "much of the custom-designed, built-in furniture in the house is designed for either storing books, showing books, or reading/enjoying books," says the firm.

A built-in bench below the window is ready for a good curl-up, with a full wall of shelves nearby.

Part of the challenge in designing a one-level home is what the architects term the "fat plan," meaning the house’s resulting depth may prevent natural light and cross-ventilation from reaching all of the interior spaces. 

Their solution? To pierce the walls and roof with natural light whenever possible. They also arranged the home around a backyard courtyard, letting rooms further benefit from a natural exchange of light and air.

Light cascades onto the window seat from glazing placed high on the wall.

The interior walls and integrated shelving throughout are clad in solid hoop pine.

The home is also designed to showcase the owners' art collection.

A purposeful nook for storing coats and taking off shoes is lined with vertical subway tile. The brick floor elegantly meets the pistachio green tile floor, which helps to define the alcove from the main space.

A large opening in the kitchen lets it overlook the courtyard, and a covered walkway provides easy circulation and protection from the elements to further encourage inhabitants to engage with the setting.

In the distance, a large outdoor living room is nestled into the surrounding vegetation. "It is a house that invites the senses, and encourages movement and occupation of a complex suite of indoor and outdoor enclosures," says the firm.

This view shows how the interior and exterior passageways intersect, as well as the relationship between the courtyard and the street. The architects sought to ensure privacy, so the homeowners can enjoy their garden undisturbed. "Suburban houses need to respond to the rigors of privacy and security, amongst others demands," says the firm. "Day-to-day rituals and routines may be embellished by natural light, social relationships, and a proximity to nature. The making of a home is about enclosure, comfort, and pleasure."

Another cozy reading nook takes advantage of natural light.

"The language of the walls is consistent with the language of the cabinetry, so that there might be an elegant reading of each room, without the distinction of wall, cabinet, and furniture," says the firm.

This bedroom, as well as two private studies, received the same built-in furniture treatment. Exposed studs further enable those built-in elements to blend with the framework of the house.

Shop the Look

A private study connected to the master bedroom is glimpsed down a corridor. The bathroom sinks occupy their own tiled niche.

"All bathrooms are ‘deconstructed’ into a series of wet area alcoves," say the architects.

The front facade is an unassuming composition of dark-painted timber and privacy screening. "We thought about the idea of the house being like a quiet shadow in the foreground of the reserve," says the firm.

Related Reading: A Comic Book Illustrator’s Quirky Live/Work Pad in Brazil

Project Credits:

Architect: Vokes and Peters / @stuart_vokesandpeters and @aaron_vokesandpeters)

Builder: Todd Knaus Constructions

Structural Engineer: Westera Partners

Civil Engineer: H Design

Landscape Design: Tim Hays Garden Design

Lighting Design: Gray Light

Interior Design: Vokes and Peters

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