This article was written by Nick and the owner. (Hint for selecting a designer – check they are on speaking terms with at least one ex client).
The original house on ground was destroyed by the floods of 2011. The owner was unsure what to do. She wanted to stay in the area and keep a connection with the garden, but didn’t want another flooded house or the anxiety every time significant rain fell. We explored pontoon type housing but with limited budget and confidence in local council processes for that degree of innovation, ended up building above the flood level.
To keep what connection to the garden we could, the living area opens out with wide stacker doors to the deck, which has trees close enough to touch. Whether I’m working in my study, washing up, sitting on my bed, in the shower – there’s green everywhere. And the breezes are lovely. The deck is proportioned for outdoor living. The front and back stairs have a size and shape that suits sitting and using them as intermediate areas between the house and the ground. They’re a destination in themselves. There is also a first floor vegie garden.
The original pool was a lot of trouble to maintain and refence. Rather than demolish it, it was converted to a pond which is a favourite with water dragons and birds. It is designed so that cane toads can’t get in with the aim of a refuge for native frog breeding. It’s also a calming water feature.
3D computer modelling was used extensively here to get the best connections between inside, outside, garden, pond and privacy.
Even in Brisbane, the original house was cold in winter. The new house is reoriented at an angle to the street for better solar access. Under floor insulation is still essential. A Queenslander wrap around deck might work in the tropics where it is always hot. In the subtropics, the model is too cold and dim in winter. The north facing eaves in this house are cut back for solar access. Luckily here, the garden is to the south, where a large overhanging roof is suitable.
One bedroom has a loft sleeping platform that is loved by kids and can also be used as a flood refuge for people or high priority storage.
More owner comments:
The central study space is just wonderful. It’s great for me but also wonderful to have this “public” breakout space where the kids can use the computer etc. but be “amongst things”. With the growing number of single person households I think there’s an important design story to be told/ a different need that should be met…e.g. living space near the kitchen rather than dining, a home that can work for being a one person house but also be highly successful in welcoming people to socialise. For example, when you’re living alone and entertaining, it doesn’t work to have the kitchen disconnected from the living space. I’m thrilled with the outcome of the link between the kitchen, deck and living space.
And although it felt indulgent at the time – I’m so glad I included the ensuite. It’s such a beautiful room – private but open and so light.
Thanks Nick – the most important thing you did for me is you designed the house I wanted, not the one you wanted me to have …which I’ve heard has been the experience of so many other people I know!