Smart Home Design

For more than 20 years, Claire and John Whitaker enjoyed weekends and holidays at this picturesque site on the Lake Macquarie foreshore. When they retired, they needed a bigger permanent home, but wanted to retain the character and charm of the site’s original weatherboard cottage. “It’s such a beautiful spot right on the edge of the lake and we’d always loved getting away from Newcastle for the weekend, either by ourselves or with the family,” says Claire. “The cottage that was here originally was built sometime in the 1930s and although we’d done a lot to it over the years, because of its size and age, it really wasn’t the sort of house we could live in full time. “We loved its character so much that when we started to think about the new house, we knew we wanted something that had a similar style. We had a lot of memories attached to the original house, and I can’t deny it was a sad moment when we had to tear it down.” Visit the Whitakers’ home today and it’s not hard to see that the decision to retain the essence of the original dwelling was worth it. A series of pyramid pavilions designed around a simple geometric plan cascade down the site to the water’s edge. The main pavilion contains the living, kitchen and dining areas, which are positioned to take full advantage of the spectacular lake views. Adjoining pavilions provide accommodation for visiting family and house other necessities like the garage and a recreation room. “Before we pulled the old house down, we asked our architect to come and visit the site several times so he could see fi rst hand what we loved about the original house,” says Claire. “By doing that, he got to track where the sun was at different times during the day and could design our new home to best suit the site.” As a result, split-level courtyards are shielded from the often-harsh southerly winds and have been positioned to capture the sun. And in the height of summer, a ‘breezeway’ complete with extensive louvres draws the lake breezes inside to cool the house. “I guess that’s what we love about the property – it’s such a nice place to be whether it’s winter or summer. When it’s sunny, it’s a great spot to enjoy the outdoors and go swimming off the jetty, but when it’s cold and blustery, it’s so nice to be inside where it’s warm and you can sit and watch the lake,” smiles Claire. Apart from providing a beautiful outlook, the lake also had a big infl uence on the materials that Claire and John chose to complete their new home. “The boathouse and the jetty have been there since we bought the property back in the 1970s, and while we defi nitely wanted to keep them, we knew that somehow we needed to ‘tie’ that area of the property to the main house,” says Claire. To carry the nautical theme from lakeside up into the new house, fi ne, stainless-steel balustrades and bracings have been used throughout. Local Australian blackbutt hardwood timber, reminiscent of a ship’s decking, has been used inside and out, and a boardwalk running down the side of the house follows the same line as the jetty to create a smooth transition from one area to the other. Claire and John were very keen to retain the weatherboard look that was so integral to the original cottage’s lake-front style, but they didn’t want the maintenance issues that come with timber, especially as weather conditions at the lake can be harsh. The decision was made to clad the exterior in James Hardie PrimeLine® Newport Weatherboards. “We knew we wanted a weatherboard fi nish, but couldn’t face having to constantly maintain timber boards, so the PrimeLine Weatherboards were ideal,” says Claire. “They look like original boards and will continue to look that way in the future without us having to do much to them.” To complete the look, the boatshed was also covered in the new boards. Claire and John couldn’t pull the boatshed down and build a brand-new one due to council regulations, so being able to use the same product that they’d built the house with to cover the existing shed was the perfect solution. Today, the boatshed has a visual tie to their new home but is still built around the original foundations. Like the rest of the property, it shows just how good the fi nished result can be when old memories combine with new design ideas and materials.