A sophisticated take on the traditional barn house
HOUSE Byron Bay Barns
LOCATION Byron Bay, NSW
DATE COMMENCED February 2017
DATE COMPLETED June 2018
INITIAL BUDGET $1.2m
FINAL COST $1.3m
As a general rule, “worldly” and “refined” are adjectives rarely attached to the humble barn house, but this family home in Byron Bay is the exception to the rule.
Consisting of two level building sites (a main house and a granny flat) on a sloping block, Byron Bay Barns is the brainchild of Tim Sharpe. Tim does not have a hat fetish, but he did don a fair few as the architect, owner and builder of this project.
Cocooned within a setting of lofty hoop trees and magnificent pillar rock, both structures provide a strong indoor/outdoor connection that suits the subtropical coastal lifestyle of northern NSW. The pitched gable roofs are clad in spangled galvanised steel, a first in Australian architecture. Chosen because of its low-maintenance appeal, the cladding is just one example of Tim’s keen eye for design and unique take on architecture. He was eager to build a house that was not only low-maintenance, but also durable, comfortable and thermally efficient.
The inspiration behind this project’s design was a melting pot of influences, including the Australian woolshed, the European mansard and the steep, pitched gable roofs popularised around the world. “We were influenced by a year spent living in Switzerland and my wife’s European/North American background, as well as ensuring that the traditional style influence was rethought to suit subtropical weather conditions,” adds Tim.
With four bedrooms and three bathrooms, the main house provides direct garden access and invites the family to stretch out in the open-plan kitchen and living zone or relax in the snug/TV room (with French doors and stacker windows). Sharp like a knife, the two-degree pitched roof of the bedroom wing effectively outlines the private areas of the home. These spaces — primarily the bedrooms — were finished with lower ceiling heights for a cosier atmosphere. A home office, swimming pool and covered deck round out the living areas. Meanwhile, the granny flat provides guests with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a loft space.
To keep energy costs down, the buildings were designed and arranged to capture natural north and east light in as many spaces as possible. Polished concrete floors hide another energy-efficient inclusion: underfloor heating and cooling. Combined with natural cross ventilation and extreme insulation that exceeds standard requirements, the barns are right at home in the hippy-friendly, eco-conscious Byron Bay. “We wanted to create a house that would become better with age so we can focus on living in it and enjoying it rather than maintaining it,” Tim explains. To achieve this, he used materials that promised to age well and add character to the home. The galvanised steel flat pan profile roof and cladding, for example, will soften and reveal a grey patina over time.
Spotted gum cladding contrasts with the metal sheeting and will age into sumptuous shades of grey, with the addition of external sliding screens offering privacy and sun protection. By using a neutral palette of natural materials that will remain aesthetically pleasing as they age, Tim has ensured the home is grand and majestic, yet somehow warm and cosy. It is testament to his talent and the vision he and his wife refined from concept to reality.
When quizzed on his favourite space in the home, Tim struggled to identify just one: “We love the dark-blue snug room for curling up with the family on a rainy night,” he confides. “The lofty elevated office space has suddenly made bookwork a pleasure, and the kitchen island is a gathering place on Friday afternoons for a weekend start on nibblies and drinks.”
With his family in tow and polished concrete underfoot, Tim and his brood will be able to enjoy the form and function of their striking home for decades to come.
The high ceilings and polished concrete floors
The pitched gable roofs that are clad in spangled galvanised steel
Architect/interior designer Sharpe Design Construct — Tim Sharpe, Rani Blancpain, Marc Gerritsen, sharpedc.com
Builder Sharpe Design Construct, sharpedc.com
Engineer ICON Consulting Engineers, i-con.com.au
FURNITURE, FITTINGS & FINISHES
Cabinetmaker Keakraft, (02) 6687 0766
FIXTURES & FITTINGS
Hardwood & building materials H Williams & Sons (02) 6685 7355; Byron Bay Building Materials (02) 6685 6399
Roofing & cladding Stratco, stratco.com.au
Floor heating/cooling Radiant, 0477 211 811
Plumbing fixtures Reece, reece.com.au