Up-to-date style in an old suburb

FLEXIBLE: The living room has soaring pitched ceilings opening to the northern courtyard, which has retractable shading. Photo: Dion Robeson

FLEXIBLE: The living room has soaring pitched ceilings opening to the northern courtyard, which has retractable shading. Photo: Dion Robeson

Whether you're in an old inner city suburb or a historic regional town, there's a chance you'll have a council who is not keen on throwing something modern into the mix.

That was what confronted Simone Robeson when she was given the brief for Subiaco House in Perth, an inner-city retreat for a couple who travel often and plan to stay put in this leafy suburb for a good while.

"City of Subiaco, at the time, had a number of conservative councillors who were of the thought that new homes should be designed to look like old ones," said Simone.

"It was even suggested to use materials that were made to look like other materials, such as fake timber - every architect's worse nightmare!"

For the street elevation, they had to ensure the roof pitch and wall plate heights exactly matched that of the neighbours, and the window widths also had to replicate the form of the neighbouring ones.

STREET APPEAL: The lines may be modern but they still echo the traditional streetscape. Photo: Dion Robeson

STREET APPEAL: The lines may be modern but they still echo the traditional streetscape. Photo: Dion Robeson

"Within such restrictive parameters, we tried to avoid the home becoming a modern replica of an older home built for a different time," said Simone.

Through the use of timber, steel and CFC cladding, she sought to keep the home contemporary, but more importantly, low maintenance for the owners.

With three split ground-floor levels falling with the contours of the site, this courtyard home centres around pulling in the northern light and capturing views of the stunning nearby trees.

Both space and budget was weighted toward those spaces the owners plan to use most - the living areas and their master bedroom suite.

The living room has soaring pitched ceilings which open to the northern courtyard.

This courtyard has retractable shading, allowing the owner to passively control the suns penetration throughout the year.

The passage between the living area and the master bedrooms acts as a tiny library, with floor to ceiling shelving surrounding a deep window seat.

With windows out to the courtyard, this is perfect nook to cosy up in with a book.

The passage between the living area and the master bedrooms acts as a tiny library. Photo: Dion Robeson

The passage between the living area and the master bedrooms acts as a tiny library. Photo: Dion Robeson

There is an aesthetic cohesion throughout the house that Simone attributes to the use of a simple palette.

"We don't like using too many different materials in a project; we find fewer materials calming and more practical," she said. "And it means we can order larger amounts of the material which is more cost effective."

The Carrera marble was sourced from off-cuts and was used for all bathroom benchtops.

Likewise the 'kabuki' granite benchtops in the kitchen and laundry were cut out of the same slab.

A 'salt and pepper' polished concrete floor runs through the home, including bedrooms, with travertine stone paving to external areas.

This same travertine was cut down to smaller sizes, and used as an internal un-grouted cladding to the fireplace.

Accents of American Black Walnut veneers to the cabinetry add warmth against the concrete flooring.

BALANCE: Accents of American Black Walnut veneers to the cabinetry add warmth against the concrete flooring. Photo: Dion Robeson

BALANCE: Accents of American Black Walnut veneers to the cabinetry add warmth against the concrete flooring. Photo: Dion Robeson

Sustainability gets a tick as well, with the exposed concrete floor slab an effective way to achieve passive heating during winter - the north facing glass in the living room enables the slab to store the heat during the day, to then release it at night time. Louvred windows at the other end of the home capture those south-westerlies cooling the home in the summer afternoons.

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