When a couple with a young daughter envisioned the next few years of their lives, they pictured it from a suburban neighborhood along the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. They imagined a gathering place known for entertaining, where guests could feel welcome to come and go with ease. There had to be enough space, of course, but they didn't want their home's square footage to cut them off from the outdoors, either.
The property they found matched almost none of their expectations—but it did sit on land they loved.
"The existing home was charming, but it was almost unlovable," architect Andrew Walter says. "However, the site's setting was spectacular, and a new home that made the most of the beautiful setting was the only option."
By removing the previous home from the site, Walter and his namesake design firm, Walter & Walter, created a fresh start for these forward-thinking owners. Given that they wanted a versatile space for their family and various guests, Walter outlined a minimalist design that rested on two simple yet impactful elements: glass and wood.
Floor-to-ceiling windows placed strategically throughout the home's footprint make the outdoor landscape a part of the family's daily lives, and clean lines of dark ash provide much-needed depth and texture to the otherwise white interior.
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The blackened wood is the defining feature of the property, especially from the street. Its dark, almost imposing presence is uninterrupted by windows on the front facade, making for an appearance that has the effect of a well-positioned guard. "The blackened rough ash complements the landscape, yet also contrasts to the interior openness of the spaces," Walter says.
Upon entering, the home feels much lighter. Walter designed the floor plan with "layers" that slowly blend oversized panes of glass with wood through the back of the property, which is mostly made up of glass. Not only does this trick make the 2,500-square-foot home appear larger, but it also makes the home more sustainable, durable, and comfortable year-round, he says.
When the home was completed, the owners no longer had to envision a future place to call their own. Walter had given them a property that met all of their standards: It had the space and style they desired, with the ability "to entertain both inside and out," he says.
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