This home was a labour of love for the owner-builder, who designed a timeless family dwelling inspired by the colours of nature.
This beautiful, timeless family dwelling, a triumph of exceptional design, materiality and innovation, is the latest offering for Grand Designs Australia.
When the final nail was hammered into place, designer and builder Mick Heuchan says it was an emotional moment. “It was almost surreal that it was finally finished, it’s what I’d been dreaming about for the last 10 years or more,” he says.
Mick had envisioned a house that was timeless, a beautiful organic structure, a family home that was carefully crafted to endure. Where the house now proudly stands was once a scrub- and lantana-covered vacant block of land. Mick had to excavate and move more than 4000 cubic metres of earth to create the house site.
In sourcing ideas and concepts for the project, Mick was influenced by the work of iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright. “I remember seeing a house he’d created on the northern beaches and thought, that’s as beautiful today as when it was designed years before,” he reflects.
However, he credits his final inspiration to architect Shaun Lockyer’s body of work. “I just love his use of raw concrete and Monument matt finishes with raw timber,” says Mick.
In choosing colours, Mick wanted to pay homage to both the beach and the bush. “I love the Australian coastline and the weathered sandstone found around the coast, the olive greens, greys and browns,” he says. “I wanted to bring that palette to the bush landscape.”
With plans in place, and his good buddy carpenter Greg Allen by his side, the pair went to work. The two-storey home has six bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as plenty of beautiful and functional living spaces. This includes an upstairs library with glorious views. The living room is one of Mick’s favourite places. “I love the sense of space, the high ceilings and large windows — so much light comes in it’s almost like an amphitheatre,” he enthuses.
It’s not the only area of the home where Mick decided to “go big”. One of the bathrooms has a floor-to-ceiling shower a whole family could share. Mick says another mate of his devised the one-of-a-kind shower screen. “It’s massive, with an amazing frameless glass sliding door system that goes up to the ceiling. When you turn the shower on it turns into a steam room,” he says.
The spacious kitchen is perfect for entertaining. The idea behind the open-plan living and generous kitchen stems from Micks childhood, and wonderful memories with friends and family at home. “Growing up when we had dinner parties — the women were outside sipping boxed wine and the men were inside cooking and preparing the food. We had so much fun,” he says laughing.
The interior of the home is light-filled, comfortable and deliciously luxurious. There is so much to discover.
An underground wine cellar was another item Mick was determined to tick off his must-have list. “It was always a dream of mine,” he notes. But sourcing enough light proved to be a bit of a conundrum. Then Mick had a light bulb moment. “About six months into the build I thought I’ll move the pool next to it and add a big window. At night you can turn the pool lights on and beautiful reflected light comes into the wine cellar.”
Many sustainable and earth-friendly building practices and products were implemented in the design, including concrete panels and double-glassed glazing, sub-floor heat pump heating and the latest high-end thermal insulation.
Reflecting back, Mick says the project did have some tumultuous moments, including breaking his neck three months prior to the reveal. “I was surfing, was dumped on the shore and had to be rushed to hospital, which made things interesting,” he says. “We still had a lot to do, so I put on a neck brace and just kept working.”
HOUSE Elemental House
LOCATION Dooralong, NSW
INITIAL BUDGET $1 million
FINAL COST $1.2 million
DATE COMMENCED August 2018
DATE COMPLETED March 2021
Architect SSD Studio, ssdstudio.com.au
Builders Mick Heuchan and Greg Allan
Designer Mick Heuchan
Interior designer Mick Heuchan and Sue Redman
WORDS CARROL BAKER
PHOTOGRAPHY Sally Griffiths
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