Commissioned by a Sydney couple looking for a weekender, this house abuts the Daylesford’s Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. “The clients had always dreamed of building a new house, with the words ‘country cabin’ mentioned at our initial meeting,” says Kane, who was keen to create a modest abode rather than a large city-style home transported to a rural setting.
Daylesford benefits from having numerous period cottages, with many intact streetscapes. This previously vacant allotment, of approximately 650 square metres, was perfectly located in one of these relatively intact streetscapes. With a slope towards the street of just under three metres, the site came with views over mountain ranges to the south with an outlook of the botanic gardens to the rear.
One of the main triggers for Kane’s design is the large and established walnut tree located in the front garden, adjacent to the front entrance. Its gnarled and textured trunk has become a ‘work of art’ when viewed from the kitchen and dining area on one side of the corridor, as well as from one of the two bedrooms on the other side of the main passage. And to ensure unimpeded views through the home, as well as providing cross ventilation, there are two large glass pivotal doors at both ends.
Kane was mindful of the township’s many period buildings and therefore designed two simple pitched pavilions linked by a central passage. On one side are the open plan kitchen, dining and living areas, and on the other, are two bedrooms, including the main bedroom, each with its own ensuite. And as there’s a generous gradient, Kane was able to locate the garage and storage areas below. Simply detailed, the two pavilions are clad in silvertop ash and stained a saturated grey/brown tone to pick up on the colours of the walnut tree. “The design is about reducing the palette of materials as well as creating pitched forms evocative of many of the traditional cottages in the area,” says Kane.
Walnut was used extensively in the joinery. The kitchen, for example, features walnut cupboards and, in the living area, is a bank of built-in walnut cupboards that include the concealment of the television. “The idea is to enjoy this wonderful setting rather than focus on the usual technology,” says Kane. Walnut also appears in the bedroom, with bedroom furniture made by Tasmanian designer Simon Anchor. And rather than create too many distractions from the views at both ends of the house, one of the few is a fine LED light placed in the pitch of the roofline that accentuates its form (the height of the pitch at its pinnacle is almost five metres).
Polished concrete floors feature throughout the Daylesford house, juxtaposed with pristine white walls. “It’s a refined and sophisticated weekender, where the attention is focused on the view and also the finer details,” says Kane, pointing out the beautiful chamfered edges in the bespoke joinery. And while there’s a substantial dose of walnut in the main living areas, including the dining table, the bedrooms and ensuites are more pared back, with the walnut used for items designed by Anchor.
And wherever one is in the house, there’s the presence of the walnut tree, adding further texture to this simple but exquisitely detailed home.