I have been a fan of the houses of WA architect Ben Mountford for a while now. You might remember I did a story a few years ago on the renovation and extension he designed for this old Mt Hawthorn cottage, which won him an architecture award. His homes are cool; yet relaxed and liveable, different; but not pretentious, and every element is always super-functional while looking great; nothing feels superfluous. Plus Ben is also a ridiculously nice person. He even brought one of those famous apple strudels from Corica’s to our interview. I am always a fan of people who give me cake.
Today I have another of Ben’s homes to share with you guys – this eco-friendly, new-build in Maylands, built on a tiny infill block and surrounded by old trees and edible gardens.
Some of you may have been lucky enough to visit it in person for the awesome event that is Open House Perth. You guys will understand why I think it’s House Nerd-worthy! When we live in a city in a time when more than 95% of new homes are by project home builders, here is a house that is refreshingly different – it’s not unnecessarily large, it’s a freestanding house with just two bedrooms, it was designed specifically for just one person, and rather than slavishly following trends or resale requirements, it’s exactly what she wanted.
Built on a 295sqm infill block that was once the backyard of another home, this is a small house – but it doesn’t feel small. The combination of the high ceiling, orientation and expanses of glass (there are charming garden or treed outlooks from every window, and an internal glass sliding door to the ground floor bedroom suite) makes the house feel much more expansive than its modest 160sqm. It’s gorgeous – and very thoughtfully planned. (The house took out the award for Small Project Architecture in the 2015 WA Architecture Awards).
ABOVE LEFT: A deck was designed beneath one of the tall existing trees. ABOVE RIGHT: Gabion fences secure the side garden. Photos Red Images Fine Photography.
The owner also wanted the house to minimise material usage and heat gains, and to be designed around the tall trees, which I thought was lovely. (The lot was formerly the backyard of another house). “I bought the block for the trees, because I knew the trees would block out the hot afternoon sun,” she tells me. Inside, Northern European influences blend with elements of Japanese interiors to create a calming ambience. It’s quiet here.
As nice as this house looks in photos, there is something almost magical about the way it feels in real life. Those of you who have visited it will know what I’m talking about, and likely you would be as charmed as I am. But most besotted of all is the home owner. “When I moved in and first just sort of sat here, with the lovely light coming into the living area, it was just fabulous,” she says. “I couldn’t believe this was my house.” Maya x
An award-winning, freestanding, eco-friendly, solar passive two bedroom new-build
When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than House Nerd. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.