With the previous constraints we began thinking about the shape of the house. We wanted it to sit relatively gently on the land, be prominent but not a scar. Many old buildings in the area are clad with vertical timber boards – shiplap or board and batten. These have weathered to silver grey over the years and are synonymous with the agricultural history of the area – many were apple packing sheds. We wanted our building to be reminiscent of this but at the same time be new and modest – we aren’t doing no barn conversion here!
Having one long building was our first though, with the centre being the living space, however we were currently living in a small 1920’s house in Sandy Bay, Hobart that had no hallways and it had a lovely flow to it. Hallways can be space wasters that do little but take up materials. So the aim of doing away with any hallway or linking passages was on our minds.
We also wanted two bedrooms, one for us and another for guests as living rurally often means friends have to stay the night to avoid driving in the dark and with many of our friends and family on the mainland we wanted them to have a space to stay with us. But here’s the rub, we also really like our own space and privacy so having bedrooms next to each other would detract from the feelings of seclusion and solitude we love about living in Tasmania. Also the second bedroom would be mainly used as an clean studio (dirty studio is the shed) space. So this influenced separating the bedrooms by distance.
So, add these things to the previous wants of central open plan living/dining/kitchen, large pantry and a wet zone utility/mud room AND fitting onto the landscape, a three pronged shape emerged. The idea was that it followed or mimicked the shape of the land, created a sheltered area to the south for a fire pit and main entry, while the main bedroom projection help capture the view and morning sun.
The fall of the land and existing vegetation also relate to window placement for privacy without any curtains or blinds. While very unlikely anyone will be walking around our place we wanted to minimise any potential sight lines into the house while keeping the windows as large as possible on the north. Southern windows will be smaller as the view isn’t as important and being the colder side it’s best to limit glazing. It was very important to us not to have curtains or blinds – we love being able to watch the changing light, wake up with it and not have to fluff around opening and closing coverings – that and 99% look pretty terrible in a modern minimal home.
If all the above pedantic specific requirements wasn’t enough to scare off an architect, our high school friend Richard Waterson agreed to take us on as clients. There was also a comment about designing for a designer… but so far so good! Richard has been an immense help. From the scrappy sketches we sent him of the rough floor plan he drew up the first draft of the Glen Huon House. We had no idea about dimensions but Richard was able to help us out – he understood our desire to have a space that wasn’t huge but not too small. We began to realise why some projects (*cough* Grand Designs *cough*) would get carried away with little regard for budget – when you think about how much time and energy the building will take it can seem silly to limit yourself by a metre here or there. But adding a metre width can mean 5m2 and when you work off $3k per square meter as a rough price estimate… 1 metre here or there can suddenly can be come $15,000 difference. Luckily we didn’t get too carried away from our initial sketch but rather tweaked the layout to make it more functional… and we did increase the total area from 131m2 to 144m2. The previous owners planned home was 182m2 and the average for Australian houses is 241m2, just for reference.
We also sent Richard endless reference images which helped convey the style we’re after. We have pretty minimal possessions and aim to make a lot of the joinery and furniture ourselves to create a bespoke and honest home that is meaningful to us.
Richard also made some comment about curves… now what was it? Curves equal more…? Something-or-other, oh well!
Steve said “No points for guessing who wanted curves!” Ohh, designing for designers.