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HOME SALLY CROXTON

This Hawks Nest holiday home is everything its open-minded owners could have hoped for.

NARROW ESCAPE

159-square-metre block – easily the smallest in Hawks Nest – has been used to accommodate a sizeable house with beachy good looks. The secret is in an innovative design drawn up after pre-construction negotiations between the Maroubra-based owners and their architect, their neighbours and Great Lakes Council which nutted out the issues and managed to keep everyone happy. For under $400,000 including land, smart new child-friendly furniture and upmarket finishes including gleaming mocha floor tiles, CaesarStone benches and Blackbutt timber stairs and decking, Sonya and Steve Jackson have built a striking architect-designed holiday house. Named Idlewatch, the residence packs in so much living space over three levels it comfortably takes two families which is useful for holiday letting as well as the monthly visits from the owners, their two young children, aged four and 18 months, and their friends. When in 2006 Sonya and Steve first came across the 5.6-metre-wide, 30-metre-deep site next to a grassy laneway in Pelican Avenue, it had languished unsold on the market for years due to its unusually small size. The boom Hawks Nest property market had slowed, but even so the land came with a price tag of $150,000. They made an offer and bought it for well under $100,000. The street, one back from the riverfront, was subdivided in the 1950s when Hawks Nest was accessible only by vehicular ferry and Pelican Avenue was intended to be the picturesque town’s main street. ‘‘This and the two houses next to us were supposed to be a row of seven shops,’’ Steve says. When the main street plan was abandoned, six of the land blocks were amalgamated and sold off for two houses, leaving undeveloped their sliver of land and the adjacent unmade laneway. It was a risky buy. Others had looked at the land and considered it too small for a house. They had tried to acquire the laneway to add to it but the council refused to sell. Steve, an engineer who first discovered the unspoiled charms of Hawks Nest on a fondly remembered childhood holiday and wanted

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the same experiences for his children, could see the land’s potential. He believed he could get an attractive house on the site by building within a whisker of the side boundaries and taking advantage of the green northern outlook to the laneway which runs along one side and the back of the block. Steve contacted a number of leading Sydney architects (some thought he was crazy!) before appointing Rod Seymour and Stephen Coon of Seymour Lawler Architects, Charlestown, to the project after seeing their work in Hawks Nest. The architects employed several design tricks to deliver on Steve’s brief for an attractive home with a relaxed, seaside feel which needed to include a living, dining and kitchen area, three large bedrooms (one a five-bed bunk room), two bathrooms, a laundry, parking and outdoor living space. Among the tricks used to maximise space and minimise impact on the neighbours and the streetscape, the three levels present to the street as two with the top-floor master bedroom, ensuite and walk-in robe incorporated as a loft in the roof facing the rear towards the river views. The combined kitchen, living and dining area with large northern windows and opening to decks at either end (with no garden, the decks comply with councils minimum outdoor living area requirements) is on the middle floor capturing water views. Despite the narrow block width, the living area still feels spacious, open and inviting, a mood enhanced by the choice of a uniform colour scheme in a crisp Dulux White on White. And by keeping the house to a single level at the back where the neighbouring doublestorey house gives way to garden, it preserves the neighbours’ views and privacy. James Hardie Textureline sheet cladding and Colorbond Custom Orb wall cladding and roofing material were chosen for the outside. They not only helped to give the house its beachy feel but also allowed the builder, Jason Smith of Lemon Tree Passage building company Smith Bros Building, to complete the now 18-month-old house in the surprisingly short time of 14 weeks and within the $250,000 construction budget.

ACCORDING TO PLAN: Great Lakes Council’s regulations drove the design including the placement of living areas which had to be elevated out of the flood-prone zone.

FAVOURITE FEATURE The exterior good looks of the house, which was a finalist in the 2009 HIA Housing Awards, have literally stopped traffic and won over the locals who were originally sceptical. It is finished in James Hardie Textureline fibrous cement and Colorbond Custom Orb cladding both in muted blue/green colours. Builder Jason Smith was able to erect the large 3 metre by 1.2 metre Textureline sheets much more quickly than brick and the slimness of the cladding, half the width of brick, provided valuable extra internal space.

LAKE MACQUARIE CITY ART GALLERY

SUMMER DESIGN STUDIO A travelling permanent pavilion for the city of Lake Macquarie

1 – 17 May

public forum & opening celebration Sat 2 May 2pm

A showcase of selected projects from fourth and final year students from University of NSW Faculty of the Built Environment Pavilion by Kirk Macdonnell

Gallery open Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm. Admission is free.

First Street Booragul NSW T: 02 4965 8260 www.lakemac.com.au

Narrow Escape  

An article from Newcastle Herald's Weekender Magazine, detailing a compact & contemporary beach house designed by Mark Lawler Architects.

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