A Toolangi home in sync with its natural surroundings
Location: Toolangi, Victoria
Date commenced: April 2010
Date completed: April 2011
Cost: $1 million
Project Colour Palette: Modern country is the theme of this Toolangi home. The palette is very neutral, featuring beige, brown, cream, grey and black. Colour is kept minimal with a dash of pistachio on the bar stools in the kitchen and a hint of blue in the bedroom
A rural township in Victoria, Toolangi is Aboriginal for ‘tall trees’, and this serene part of the state is aptly full of them. Home to just 289 people, it’s easy to understand the attraction of living in a place where the natural environment is king. For Keith Hughson and his partner David Andrew Neilson, the lure of building a home
in a peaceful neck of the woods trumps city living, pure and simple.“After securing five acres of pasture land, you would think there would be ample space for two properties, but planning rules stated otherwise. With an original three-bedroom cottage sitting on the front of the property, a knockdown seemed too harsh a measure”
When building your dream home, time is something most are not afforded, with decisions being made without so much as a second thought — but this wasn’t the case for Keith and David. “Prior to purchasing our property, we had been looking for the right parcel of land for a couple of years,” says Keith. “This gave us plenty of time to think about what we wanted in a home. We had a great meeting with Fasham architect, Brian Stacey who asked all the right questions. One of the first questions he asked was, ‘Is this a short-term or a long-term project?’ The answer to this question very much influenced the final design, and for us, that was long term.”
After securing five acres of pasture land, you would think there would be ample space for two properties, but planning rules stated otherwise. With an original three-bedroom cottage sitting on the front of the property, a knockdown seemed too harsh a measure, but thankfully Brian was able to salvage the structure and turn it into a guesthouse. Focusing on maximising northern light, the main house was designed just for Keith and David, meaning it is only one room deep and nearly 40 metres long. “By keeping the original house as a guesthouse, we didn’t need to build as big a house for ourselves, and this also meant less impact on the land,” says Keith.
Consisting of two bedrooms with ensuite, an open-plan kitchen, dining/lounge room, powder room, laundry and a three-car garage, the linear structure of the residence ensures every room has access to the surrounding views and northern light. “The entire north side of the house is double-glazed, floor to ceiling,” says Keith. “In contrast, the south side of the house only has a handful of narrow windows, which is perfect for cross-ventilation. The sun battens on the pergola allow the winter sun to penetrate right through the building in winter, but keep it out during the hot summer months. We also use a solar hot water system with electricity back-up, which is only needed during some of the winter days when there’s not much sun around.”
The interior of the home is very much reflective of Toolangi’s environment, with stone and timber featuring heavily throughout. “We didn’t want a modern build plonked in the middle of the countryside,” says Keith. “With its vaulted timber ceiling, trusses, stone wall and fireplace, our living room is reminiscent of lodges in Canada and New Zealand. We wanted to create rooms with warmth, texture and a feeling of being connected to the countryside. Neutral colours were used on the walls and furnishings so as to not distract from the views, which are effectively pieces of living art.” A unique feature of the home is the moat installed around the front entrance, which adds a mystical element to the home. A 15-metre pool was also installed during the home’s construction, which extends alongside the kitchen, dining and living room.
Named Wingspread after a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Wisconsin, this property has morphed from a holiday house into a permanent residence for Keith and David, who use every room to its full potential — and isn’t that what a home is all about?
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Written by Annabelle Cloros
Photography by Andrew Lecky