Monday, 25 February 2013

It's all in the detail

One negative aspect of Queenslander-style houses (ie built on stilts) is that they are too far off the ground, creating a barrier between the indoors and out. My initial brief to the architects included that there be a stronger connection between the house and the garden.

The existing house is going to be raised, but only marginally, just high enough so we can park our cars underneath. This alleviates the need to build a carport or garage at the front of what is already a small front yard. However due to the fact that the site can be subject to flooding, building any additions on ground level was not an option.

The house had to work harder on the site to engage with it's surrounds. So how did we go about resolving this challenge?

Side elevation of the (to be built) children's bedrooms and terrace

A key strategy for achieving this was modulating the floor levels. So rather than looking down at the backyard from the house above, we will now walk down five steps to a private outdoor entertaining area that, in turn, leads to the garden at ground level. The kitchen itself is also open to the outdoors; the sliding doors peel back to provide access to the terrace which acts as a transition space, halfway between the house and the garden. This clever design negates the need for a long flight of stairs from the house to the yard, and having four small children this was something I wanted to avoid. The terrace and stairs will be open to the elements, but due to their masonry construction, will require little maintenance.

Section of the elevation above (the floor level shown is the minimum required.)  Notice the soaring ceilings in the bedrooms?

I mentioned previously that every room in the house has been carefully considered, and the boys  haven't missed out on some slick design features in their rooms either. The kids will be sharing bedrooms, and although the rooms themselves are not huge, they do include high ceilings and large window and door openings, creating the feeling of spaciousness. Another little feature in one of the rooms is a high level window, which draws the eye up to a peep-hole view of the sky beyond (a modern-day oculus perhaps) that will also provide a shaft of northern sunlight during the winter months when the sun sits lower in the sky.

Elevation of the bedroom featuring the high level window

Confused? This is the other side of the bedroom wall (see the little window?) The terrace features a Jetmaster fireplace which allows this outdoor room to be used during the colder months too. So much detail has gone into this space including some uber-cool decorative brick elements and a spot for a feature tree which will provide shade and privacy. I can just picture myself lounging around out here on a balmy Summer's night, the scent of frangipani in the air, drinking my favourite cocktail.

And at last we will also have somewhere to hang our XMAS stockings. Toasted marshmallows anyone?


  1. That looks wonderful!

    We have about an seven meter drop from the back of our house down to the makes utilising the back yard very difficult...especially now as we have blocked off the stairs from the kitchen to the yard as they are entirely too dangerous for a little guy to navigate.
    Our front yard is quite small but we end up spending most of our time there...and sometimes spilling out onto the footpath!

    And toasted marshmellows sound great!

  2. Our last house was very high set at the front and about 5 stairs at the back. One of the best things about Besty is she is low set and flat, so easy for kids to come in and out of the house and for me to keep an eye on them. Your brick deck area will be fanastic, love the shape of the chimney and that brick arch and especially the high window, I'm a details girl too. mel x

  3. In my love for queen slanders I never considered the access to back yards. It is wonderful to rip open the back door and hunt the kids out Without a second thought. You have some great ideas.