This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A ViCToRiAN holidAY ReNTAl illUSTRATeS The Age-old idiom ThAT good ThiNgS Come iN SmAll pACkAgeS
Words Verity Campbell PhotograPhy ben Glezer
Slatted steel sliding doors on the northern facade can be drawn aside to open the home and expose the day bed, visible in the centre. at night or in extreme sun conditions the doors can be closed, providing privacy and retreat from the elements.
the size of JaPanese rooms has traditionally been
measured by the number of tatami mats needed for the floor. A tea room was always four and a half tatami. Rooms were designed with one of many “auspicious” tatami layouts; an “inauspicious” layout had four tatami mat corners touching – unthinkable! Perhaps understandably, it wasn’t the rigorous custom associated with tatami, but the aesthetic and environmental credentials of the material that won over the Seyd family. Tatami imbue a grassy scent and a serene quality to an uncluttered room, and traditionally they’re made with a woven soft rush grass cover over a rice straw core – all renewable and biodegradable materials. But when they started building their new home in Chewton, a small hamlet near Castlemaine in rural Victoria, the Seyds knew they’d be borrowing more than tatami from the Japanese. They also took inspiration from other Japanese design sensibilities: house size and design function, and, according to building designer Daniel Seyd, the “Japanese sense of style”. Japanese houses have an average floor plan of 94 square metres, which is modest compared with Australia’s world record average of 215 square metres. Careful furniture, tone and material choice in traditional Japanese homes can ensure they remain human scaled, comfortable and welcoming. Daniel embraced these design philosophies in his Chewton home beautifully. Firstly, there’s the size of the home. It comes in under even the Japanese average at 85 square metres, including two bedrooms (one with a double, the other with bunk beds), a toilet, bathroom, and a roomy shared living, dining and kitchen room. It sleeps five comfortably, but it can stretch to eight.
Daniel’s home also features sliding screens, traditionally used in Japanese homes. With sliding screens you can create functional smaller rooms, and they conserve space usually needed for swinging doors. Sliding screens also foster a connection with the outside, which in Japan is usually a gracious manicured courtyard. In a climate appropriate application, the sliding screens in this house are custom-made galvanised steel. They line the northern facade and can be fully extended, keeping out summer sun from the home. On cooler days they can be drawn aside, letting in winter sun. Like many Japanese homes, there are no underutilised spaces in the Seyds’ house. Daybeds and benches have storage underneath, vertical cupboards make up almost the entire southern wall of the living space, and an external cupboard doubles as the laundry. Benches in the living room store futons, so that the raised tatami can serve its customary function as a foundation for bedding. A small home creates intimate spaces, which is ideal when you want a romantic getaway, but less ideal when the kids are playing up and you need ten minutes to regroup. Daniel beefed up the acoustic insulation throughout the internal walls to ensure this small home works harder than the average at keeping sounds at bay. He also wanted the house to be able to accommodate many guests, so he designed the bathroom and toilet to be accessible from the outside to cater easily for camping friends. This appreciation of the need for privacy, as well as intimacy, is key for small space design. The kitchen appears conventional, but upon closer inspection the choice of appliances makes good Daniel’s desire for a smaller home. There’s a half size fridge, and a half size dishwasher which Daniel says
Daybeds and benches have storage underneath, vertical cupboards make up almost the entire southern wall of the living space, and an external cupboard doubles as the laundry.
Daniel chose residential grade cement sheeting for the exterior cladding for its low maintenance care and simple aesthetic. He’s not sure how it will wear over the long term. “in hindsight, we should have bitten the bullet and spent extra money on a commercial grade cladding: it’s thicker, more durable and has better performing joint details, which improves the product’s longevity.”
this modest iteration of the galley kitchen fits everything you could need – fridge, dishwasher, stovetop, oven, sink and storage – into an impressive four linear metres. the simple sliding cupboard door face is red acrylic.
the living room showing the raised tatami flooring and the plywood internal wall cladding. While Daniel had originally considered finishing the plywood, he decided to keep it raw once he saw it in situ. Once it starts to wear it can be stained or limed, or replaced easily by the sheet.
the bunk room has a single bed at low level with a double bunk above that extends over the day bed off the exterior passage. a cavity sliding door disappears into the wall between the bunkroom and the main bedroom shown. When open it allows the spaces to flow into one another. all doors are solid core to improve acoustics in the compact spaces.
the west-facing balcony has recycled ironbark floors, an openable steel screen, a vertical blind for sun shading and a sliding double-glazed door from the living room.
the slow combustion wood-burning heater in the living room heats the entire home.
Similar to Japanese bathhouses, the stool, ladle and low taps can be used for washing, as an alternative to a shower or bath. photo by Verity Campbell
the whole bathroom is Japanese style: the entire room is a wet area, with a deep soaker bath with taps and shower beside for washing prior to soaking. the simple colour palette and extensive use of bisazza 20mm x 20mm glass mosaic tiles gives the room a more spacious feel. rogerseller tapware has been used throughout the house; the bath is a mizu.
suits their needs “terrifically”. The stovetop has two burners instead of the standard four or even six these days. He chose simple acrylic for the cupboard doors, ply shelving and a stainless steel bench with integrated sinks and splashback to keep costs and maintenance down. Although built as a holiday home for the family, it’s also available for holiday rentals, which brings its own challenges in a house cut off from town-connected water and sewage. “Since we built this house we’re far more in touch with how much water we consume in our Melbourne home,” says Daniel. “We’ve come to know how much water is in the tank here, so we know when we can have a bath and when we can’t.” Guests aren’t equipped with this intimate knowledge, he adds. “Sometimes we just have to put a ‘no baths please’ sign up – but guests don’t seem to mind.” The exterior is almost monolithic in
the landscape, perhaps less than ideally sympathetic to its surrounds. And yet the colour choice, size and juxtaposition of its form are forgiving. “We wanted to create a simple singular look to the outside of the house – strong and simple,” says Daniel. He admits the family has found living in the dry climate of the area challenging at times: “We’ve planted 200 trees on our block here, but the ones that have survived are only knee high, and they were planted years ago”. Cement sheeting on both sides of the home is softened by folded zincalume at each end. “We wanted to design it as a retreat from the outside in some ways, so that you can open it up, but also snug it up. And I love the contrast that when you’re inside the house, some views are of the green bush and others are of the rock, which is quite a distinctive aesthetic of this area.”
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
bedroom bedroom tatami mat sitting area living, dining & kitchen Deck bathroom laundry toilet
6 1 2 3 4
5 8 7
designer sustainable features
Insite Design —
www.insitedesign.com.au www.riversdaleretreat.com.au —
Hot water – Rinnai Beasley 250L solar hot water split system with frost tolerant panels on roof – Rinnai Infinity 26 LP Gas Booster www.rinnai.com.au Water saving – 15,500L Bluescope Steel water tank beneath the house collects all roof rainwater, which is then double filtered for consumption www.bluescopesteel.com.au – Tank is under the house to hide it away on this small block and to keep it shaded Passive heating & cooling – Steel-framed sliding screens on the north facade provide shade from the summer sun. Screens custom-built by Bent Ironwork, Harcourt, Victoria; double sliding track from Centor www.centor.com.au – Manually operated Robinsons vertical awning screens the west facade from afternoon sun and creates a semi-indoor “deck” room – Air-cell sisalation to the roof www.kingspaninsulation.com.au – CSR Bradford Soundscreen Rockwool R2.5 batt insulation to walls, R3 to floor and R5 to the roof www.bradfordinsulation.com.au Active heating & cooling – Jotul F250 slow combustion wood-burning heater from Wignell Trading comfortably heats the house in winter www.jotul.com.au – Hunter Industrie reverse cycle 3-blade ceiling fan circulates cool air in summer and warm air in winter www.hunterfan.com.au/products Windows & glazing – Skyrange Windows custom made steel-framed double-glazed window units with thermal break fixtures to wall frames www.skyrange.com.au – Pilkington Insulight Energy Advantage glass with low-e coating to inside face of outside pane www.pilkington.com – Steel frame and stainless steel mesh bushfire screens fitted to all openable windows, custom built by Bent Ironwork, Harcourt, Victoria
Insite, James Healey, Peter Morris —
New building —
Building materials – Steel main structural frame and floor joists for strength, bushfire resistance and recyclability; timber wall frames and rafters; Colorbond roof – Plantation ply internal wall cladding and plasterboard with paint finish – Forbo Marmoleum for interior floors www.forbo-flooring.com.au – Recycled Ironbark decking and steps from Australian Recycled Timber www.australianrecycledtimber.com – Japanese tatami matting from Japanese Shoji & Tatami Company on Mornington Peninsula – Local Castlemaine stone terrace and external steps Paints & finishes – Haymes exterior and interior paints www.haymespaint.com.au – Sikkens Cetol HLS timber finish to all timberwork
Chewton, Victoria —
$300,000 (including professional fees) —
house 82 sqm, land 2,500 sqm
Black water system Septech Turbojet 2000 in ground treatment plant with drip irrigation field processes all black and grey water on-site. The system is monitored every three months www.septech.com.au Daniel’s main tip for this system was to install early. He put the application to council in almost as soon as they bought the property, so they ended up installing the septic system a year before building works began. It was green, lush, and ready to be operable the moment they moved in. “Normally people install their systems at the end of building,” he says, “so you finish your house and you’ve got this big earthwork project on your land. As soon as we bought the block we got the permit and put it in.”
robinsons vertical retractable awnings shade the west-facing deck
the Septech black water treatment irrigation field
Steel frame and stainless steel screens are fitted to all openable windows. above photos by Verity Campbell
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.