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House of the weekNelson Bay

A prime Port Stephens property and the area’s agreeable climate were the foundations that fuelled the creation of this Nelson Bay home.
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Enviable location crucial to design TweetFacebook House of the week | Nelson Bay | GalleryWhen the owners acquired the property, it housed a modest 1950s cottage that had fallen into disrepair.

That place was demolished to leave a blank canvas for the design of a new residence.

Mark Lawler Architects were engaged to design it and JMC Building to construct it.

“The owners’ motivation was to build a house as their ideal retirement setting,” Mark Lawler Architects director Mark Lawler says.

“While they had family links to the Hunter Valley, they had spent the majority of their working lives in Canberra.

“With retirement approaching, there was an opportunity to return closer to family and enjoy the mild climate of Port Stephens.”

The property’s enviable location was key to the design.“This site enjoys an elevated position with extensive views over the rear boundary towards a bush reserve to the waters of Nelson Bay,” Lawler says.

“The impressive views to the north extend around to the west over Dutchmans Bay.

“The bush reserve at the rear of the property offers an attractive, natural outlook and an unusual degree of privacy.”

The site’s slope was another consideration, which necessitated several levels in the home, albeit while minimising the number of stairs and creating convenient access to the main living areas and the master bedroom.

The upper main floor of the house contains an open-plan living-dining space, the master bedroom (featuring a separate dressing room with generous wardrobe space and a large ensuite) and a powder room.

The open-plan kitchen has a large island bench and a storage wall that includes a pantry, appliances and soft-close drawers.

The lower level, positioned for easy access to the rear yard (with landscaping by Kerry Smith Landscapes), contains three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living area and laundry.

Positioned mid-way between these two levels is the entry, garage and a study.

“With this split-level arrangement, the owners and guests arrive at the mid-point between the upper and lower floors, providing convenient access to both levels,” Lawler says.

“Most importantly for the owners, from their garage they only travel a half flight [of stairs] to reach the main living area and their bedroom.

“The bedrooms on the lower level were included partly to ensure capital gain but primarily to provide for guests and the owners’ extended family during holiday periods and family visits.”

Lawler says given the property’s expansive views, an important part of the brief was to open the house and as many rooms as possible to the outlook.

As soon as one steps inside the front door there are vistas, through open timber stairs, to the rear of the property and the waters of Port Stephens beyond.

The main living spaces and bedrooms have views to the north towards the water.

A long, horizontal picture window in the dining room wall captures an outlook to the beach of Dutchmans Bay.

The living spaces on the upper and lower levels both open on to decks, designed for outdoor living and dining.

Elevated close to the tree tops, the spaces offer views down into a reserve and more distantly over Port Stephens.

“With the pleasant climate, which can be enjoyed almost year-round, stacking, sliding doors in the living spaces can be pushed open to provide seamless indoor-outdoor living,” Lawler says.

The master suite and a bedroom below also have small private decks that can be accessed through sliding doors.

Lawler says that given the property’s coastal location and northern orientation, the owners were keen to include passive, solar strategies to reduce reliance on airconditioning for cooling and heating.

Windows are positioned to admit cooling, north-east breezes.

A louvred skylight above the main living-dining space allows venting of hot air and circulation of north-east breezes.

Solar hot water, insulation and a system for collecting stormwater from the roof and storing it in an underground tank are other inclusions.

Lawler says the house has a discreet, single-storey presentation to the street but reveals a full two-storey height to the rear reserve, with interiors open to the attractive views.

“The owners can relax and enjoy the next stage of their lives in a home entirely suited to their requirements and the spectacular setting,” he says.

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