This family home on a farm on the the coast of New South Wales, Australia, was bought for its location, soil and fantastic views towards Cambewarra Mountain. However the house that came with the property did not match the stunning location. The early 1980s home was in dire need of modernization but the good bones and incredible views offered a solid foundation.
We chatted with the architects at Benedict Design Architecture and Interiors to find out more about this project and the result.
Do you have any details on the client brief?
The owners had purchased the property several years before we started planning. They loved the location with its views out the back, over the land which they run some cattle and sheep.
The brief required transforming the home within its existing footprint, maintaining the same general layout with the exception of one major plan change. The existing attached garage was repurposed into a master bedroom suite and home office; a more practical separate structure would house the vehicles.
Living spaces were to be better connected, have improved natural light and be opened up to views of the yard and surrounding landscape. A mud room was required to provide a functional entry after farm work and garden play. The home also really needed a cosmetic makeover to bring it into this century and make it family friendly.
What do you think was so special about the midcentury period in American design?
Midcentury architecture has had a huge impact on everything since. Advancements in science and manufacturing were directly reflected in a new wave of housing that employed more open planning, large spans of glazing, and better indoor / outdoor connectivity. Structure was exposed and celebrated, and designs were generally more experimental. All of these aspects are still as relevant today as they were back then.
What were your challenges for this project?
Keeping to a modest budget is always hard but the biggest challenge for this project was escaping the daggy, 80’s project home vibe the home had. This needed to happen without huge floorplan changes or a total re-build of the façade.
What was the house like previously?
The house was built in the early 1980’s as a very standard ‘spec’ or ‘project’ home, no doubt from a catalogue of very similar homes – all dressed in shades of brown. The home did not take advantage of any of the amazing views and rural surrounds that the owners purchased the property for. The material pallete was depressing, including the dominating brown tile roof, speckled brown brick façade, brown aluminium windows, beige carpets and brown porch tiles.
What in your opinion are the best features of the home?
The best part of the home is the new living, dining and kitchen area in the centre. This space really flows well with its new series of openings. The central fireplace creates an amazing focal point, you are drawn through the space alongside a textured wall that flows from front porch to back deck. You are also hit with a blast of light and space as you enter the dining and kitchen area with its vaulted ceilings and big skylights.
Last but not least, do you have any tips for people interested in buying a midcentury house or building a new home with midcentury design elements? What should they pay attention to and why?
For me the most important elements of mid-century design are the horizontal elements like the roof, long exposed beams and bays of windows. These all combine to create a low lying relaxed appearance like the home is stretching out and resting in its surrounds. For this reason, it is important to ensure adequate space around the home where you want it to connect to the outdoors.
Photos by Mitchell Fong