Real home: Sustainable subtropical minimalism


Drawing inspiration from the traditional Balinese villa, this modern Vaucluse home is a melting pot of subtropical and sustainable styles

Inspired by Indonesia’s villas and mountains, and with an emphasis on sustainability, this home is oriental in style. With clean lines and a clear delineation between inside and out, the design and sensibility of this beautiful home is unique.

The clients established their brief early in the project and worked with architect Kiril Manolev from its inception. A semi-retired couple, with one adult son still living with them, the clients were looking for a family home for the new stage of their lives. A key element of the initial brief was for the home to be designed in line with the expectations of local authorities and neighbours to avoid a lengthy and costly approvals process through council.

The other element was purchasing the right property for the design the clients had in mind. Kiril was invited to visit the property before it was purchased to judge its suitability and was impressed, especially by the “dramatic backdrop of the endless deep-green subtropical foliage. The unusually wide site with slight slope from the street further contributed to the dramatic rear view of the landscaping beyond. My recommendation to my clients was that this was the ideal site for the house they were looking to live in.”

The property was in fact so appropriate for the design that it was developed even further and was influenced by the setting itself. The proximity of neighbouring properties meant different considerations had to be taken into account. “To address privacy concerns for neighbouring properties, the first-floor bedrooms could only be oriented to face the street or the rear yard,” explains Kiril. “Side-facing windows had to be for non-habitable rooms and made of translucent glass.” These constraints were especially important in the design to aid the quick approvals process.

The entrance of the home is breathtaking. Stepping through the large door, you’re immediately greeted with the two-storey atrium and a fully glazed glass skylight. Light pours in from every angle and highlights the simple elegance of the interior.

This area leads to the kitchen and dining room at the back of the house. With the use of folding doors, the kitchen, dining and family room can easily become one large space.

The ground floor is designed specifically for minimal temperature regulation due to the glazed void over the living space, explains Kiril. “It allows for the northern sun to penetrate deep into the house during the day, eliminating the need for daytime heating in winter. The air conditioning is hardly ever used in summer as the hot air is released through the windows located at the top of the glazed void areas.”

The kitchen is simply designed with minimal clutter. The custom-honed Oyster Caesarstone island benchtop is particularly effective. The adjoining dining room continues this theme of simplicity, with a glass table and a gorgeous Spiro suspension lamp by LZF. Creating a honeycomb-like effect, this light enhances the dining room and leads the eye to the upper levels, which intersect with the ground level throughout.

The family room is divided from the dining room by a veneered feature wall, which includes a two-sided fireplace. This feature allows occupants of either room to enjoy the heat’s warmth, while the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the outdoor and pool areas.

Across these three interconnected living areas is a continuous line of folding glass doors. These are easily moved, opening the entire rear of the home to the outdoor entertaining area and pool. The pool itself is a design marvel, its black tiles and infinity edge are attention-grabbing to say the least. Shrouded with palms and overhanging greenery, the pool is reminiscent of a tropical retreat.

This home has achieved a balance of styles and ideas, evoking a traditional Balinese villa and boasting sustainable qualities and clean lines. The end result is a testament to a perfect interpretation of contemporary design.

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Photography by Sue Murray