A heritage home’s contemporary update was shows how to perfectly juxtapose classic black and white
Meet & greet
Jess and Sam Hunter, and their daughters ranging from six to 13: Bea, Lily, Olive and Ellie, plus Willow the Labrador.
After living in a 1950s weatherboard cottage for some time, interior designer Jess Hunter and her husband Sam were set on a contemporary new build for their next family home. But finding a great block they could build on freely in a heritage area proved challenging.
To avoid compromising their dream, the couple found an empty block in 2017 and engaged an architect to come up with a clever design that met the local heritage requirements and gave them the new home they were after. In the plans, the Georgian-style cottage was placed at the front and linked to two equally new pavilions, which met all the council’s criteria. They were able to come up with the perfect balance on the outside and on the inside they could do whatever they wanted.”
Another key part of the brief was a home that sat comfortably in the surrounding landscape and had a seamless indoor-outdoor flow. This was achieved by allowing a comfortable amount of room between the pavilions and blurring the boundaries between indoors and out. “This design has encouraged us to utilise and live on the whole property,” says Jess.
While the architect was busy synthesising traditional and contemporary architectural styles on the outside, Jess devised a clever scheme to link the interiors, using the same materials and a limited colour palette throughout.
The pavilions focus on three areas: open-plan living, a parents’ retreat, and a kids’ zone. Robust polished-concrete flooring became the signature feature, and hydronic heating was installed to combat the chill of the winter months. Jess warmed her design visually with three main elements: panelling in the hallway, linen pendants dotted about and masses of floor-to-ceiling curtains in every room, which immediately softened the place.
For the kitchen, Jess specified minimal joinery to create an even greater sense of openness. She chose practical Dekton Domoos Matte Nero for the benchtops and print-resistant black Laminex AbsoluteMatte fronts for the cabinetry. “There are lots of little fingers in our house,” she says, “and I didn’t want to be cleaning the cupboard doors a million times a day.”
Jess managed the build while working on numerous projects for her own business, and moved her family seven times during that time. Aside from that, she absolutely loved the process. “I’d do it over and over again,” she says. “I’m very lucky that Sam trusts me because I really got to run with it.”
Working with an architect from the start of the project was key to the success of the build, she says. “Many people think interior design follows the build, but working with the architect on the floor plan and interiors from the beginning creates a more cohesive result. And that way, you can resolve any issues early on – from where the power and plumbing points are going, to furniture choices and any custom joinery that you may need. This can save a lot of time, money and stress. I also recommend buying major furniture and lighting pieces during the build in case the budget is tight at the end.”
Though the home has only one living area, there’s plenty of room for everybody to do their thing. Jess says it’s a very fluid space, mostly revolving around the kitchen. “We all move easily from indoors to out, be it prepping for a barbecue or setting up the fire pit, and the kids rollerskate on the concrete floors between the two – we love it.”