Bush bound

Issue 25 Words: Fiona Whitelaw Photography: Thomas Kayser
Northern Sydney
  • The northeast-facing loft has been designed as a study for homeowner Robin who often works from home. The floor is finished with a recycled underlay and pure sisal floor covering.
  • The renovated northern Sydney home sits among a stand of Angophora trees and has a similar-sized footprint to the old house to limit its disturbance to the land. All external materials were selected to comply with BAL-40 and the homeowners' environmental ethos.
  • The new kitchen looks out to the northeast into the surrounding Angophora trees. Kitchen cabinetry was made with super E0 low VOC Austral marine grade hoop pine plywood.
  • Stairs climb up through a triple-height void to the bedrooms and loft above. Clerestory windows help vent warm air out of the building in summer. Recycled jarrah was used for the stair treads and handrails, recycled tallowwood for the floorboards.

Salvaged and recycled timbers are front and centre in this renovated northern beaches Sydney home.

After many years of faithful service Linda and Robin knew their ageing brick veneer home, nestled in native bush, was in need of serious renovation.

As well as saving their dilapidated home, Linda and Robin recognised they needed more space. Linda, an artist, wanted a permanent studio while Robin, a psychologist and writer, needed an office. They also wanted a more open layout than their existing 1970s floor plan allowed. On top of that, their house lay in a “bit of a dip” amongst tall trees. Combined with the home’s east–west aspect, this meant it lacked light and warmth, especially in winter.

Their initial renovation enquiries were discouraging, with many builders suggesting they would have to cut down several trees.

Linda says their concern for the site extended beyond the trees to the land itself. Both her and Robin share a deep commitment to harmonious living with their immediate and wider environment. They didn’t want to compromise the site for a much needed renovation.

Fortunately the pair found sustainable designers and builders Darryn Parkinson and Sharon Hamilton from Your Abode, who helped them realise their plan to rebuild without compromising their site and ethics.

Darryn devised a significant rebuild of their home. The building’s footprint remains largely the same, but a small loft extension above the main living area adds space and brings sunlight and warmth into the house. A new skillion roof with highlight windows increases passive solar gain, while an exposed concrete slab provides thermal mass.

Low-e glass throughout the home helps to improve its thermal performance. Rainwater is collected into a 15,000-litre tank and provides potable water.

Darryn and Sharon were sympathetic to Linda and Robin’s need for minimal impact, especially when it came to materials. Much of the house was rebuilt using reclaimed or recycled materials. The new slab contains a high proportion of fly ash, an industrial waste product, and much of the existing building materials were salvaged and reused, including granite benchtops, solid wood cupboard doors and cedar cladding.

Timber choice was a particular concern for Robin and Linda. However, Darryn proved to be an inveterate wood-hunter, sourcing Australian hardwoods from various unlikely places.

A life cycle assessment of Linda and Robin’s home found it saves 54 per cent of carbon emissions compared to a standard house.

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Cover of Issue 25
You can read more about Bush bound in Issue 25 of Sanctuary magazine.

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