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Last Updated: February 26, 2015

Weather: Sydney19C-27C. Shower or two.

    Pete Evans has joined with Rawson Homes in creating lifestyle enhancements for your kitchen.

    Our Benham display home features the latest Pete Evans kitchen. Come and join us as we unveil this great new home design, based on one of our bestselling, multi award winning designs and its amazing kitchen.

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    Finding your perfect home on the perfect block has never been easier.

    Rawson Homes has a variety of house and land packages now on sale across Sydney, ACT, Mudgee and the surrounding region, Newcastle and the Hunter.

    View H&L Packages
    Rawson Homes continues to create new designs that set the trend for today's modern living needs and wants.

    With more choice in our floorplans, facade options and inclusions that set the benchmark for the industry we know we can help you create your dream home. Visit one of our display centres to grab a copy of our home design catalogue.

    Visit a display home
    New Selection Centres Now Open

    Enjoy the experience of creating your new home from everything on display. Our Selection Centres now open in Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, and Dubbo have been created to make your life all the easier. No tripping around town, at our centres everything is on display so you can touch and see everything before you make your selections.

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    Home & Garden

    A treetop retreat rises in the city to help merge the mountains with the sea

    A beachside retreat that feels like it is set in a tropical forest in the middle of the c

    A beachside retreat that feels like it is set in a tropical forest in the middle of the city? It can be done. Source: Supplied

    ONE of the beautiful things about Sydney is its natural environment, even in its most urbanised areas.

    This jewel of a house in the seaside suburb of Bronte may be less than 20 minutes from the CBD but, once you step through the door, it’s a million miles from care.

    The owner and her family had lived in the house for more than 20 years, enjoying easy access to the beach, as well as a lush tropical-style garden.

    But while the 1920s home was in an idyllic location, it had never embraced its natural setting, lacking both light and ventilation.

    In the beginning there was just a 1920s cottage.

    In the beginning there was just a 1920s cottage. Source: Supplied

    So when she decided it was time for a change, the owner called in builder Liam Flood from To the Mil, who has been renovating houses in the street for 15 years.

    “I built a deck and a studio three doors up about 15 years ago and I got to know all the neighbours in the street,” he says. “I’ve been working up and down the street ever since.”

    Green house

    Liam introduced her to architect Andrew Schultz who came up with plans to work with the existing footprint and create a private oasis that complemented its rainforest-like environment.

    “Andrew is great to work with and the owner was happy because he is very open to other people’s ideas,” says Liam.

    The lush garden which had been created over the 20 years the owners had been in the origi

    The lush garden which had been created over the 20 years the owners had been in the original house became the focal point of the renovation. Source: Supplied

    The house is positioned in a gully and originally only the rooftop was visible from the street. Much of its appeal rests on the lush garden that the owner has created over the years so Andrew decided to make that the focus of the new building work.

    “There’s a natural water table that runs through the back garden down to the ocean
    so anything you plant there goes crazy,” Liam says. “Twenty years ago, the owner planted palms she bought from Paddy’s Markets and now they’re growing up through the deck.”

    A treetop retreat rises in the city

    The established trees were integral to the build. Source: Supplied

    Working around the mature trees and palms on the property soon became second nature.

    Working around the mature trees and palms on the property soon became second nature. Source: Supplied

    Working around the mature trees and palms on the property soon became second nature, says Liam, with the timber path to the front door curving to accommodate the trunk of a large jacaranda.

    Tree house effect

    Connection to the garden has been maintained by keeping the living areas on the lower floors, with two bedrooms and the main bedroom suite positioned in line with the canopy on the new upper floor, creating the feeling of living in a tree house.

    As part of the main bedroom suite, there is a generous ensuite with egg-shaped bath and bi-fold windows looking out on to a balcony and the lush garden beyond.

    From the bathroom it looks like this home is owned by tree changers but it is in Bronte.

    From the bathroom it looks like this home is owned by tree changers but it is in Bronte. Source: Supplied

    The middle level accommodates another two bedrooms, as well as the living area, kitchen and dining room leading on to the deck; the lower level has a library, study and TV room. Both living areas have access to the garden, while the pool is positioned between the floors like a mezzanine level.

    Given the house is built boundary to boundary, pulling light into the home presented a challenge for the architect. Andrew opted for a lightweight, tilted roofline for the new second storey with high louvre windows and deep eaves that appear to float above the house.

    “That staircase is designed to draw you down to the lower floor,” says Liam.

    “That staircase is designed to draw you down to the lower floor,” says Liam. Source: Supplied

    Natural light is drawn in without impacting on anyone’s privacy.

    “We couldn’t put any windows in on the right-hand side of the house because of privacy,” says Liam. “Now with the new roof, the light bounces off the wall, down the stairs and into the living room.”

    The louvres are part of a natural airconditioning system, says Liam, where hot air is drawn up into the top level and released. Air cools as it passes over the pool and into the house, while fans in the bedrooms keep the temperature comfortable on hot summer nights.

    Movement from the entry on the upper floor to the living room downstairs is via a generous staircase which widens as you descend, while the American oak balustrade hand-carved by To the Mil foreman Pat Martin quietly echoes the natural environment outdoors.

    he American oak balustrade hand-carved by To the Mil foreman Pat Martin quietly echoes th

    he American oak balustrade hand-carved by To the Mil foreman Pat Martin quietly echoes the natural environment outdoors. The curved walls were introduced during the building process. Source: Supplied

    “That staircase is designed to draw you down to the lower floor,” says Liam.

    Although the temptation was to keep the lower floor all open plan, Andrew decided to design for a “slow reveal” so that the view of the garden is not immediately obvious.

    “We introduced the curved walls as we went through the building process,” says Liam. “When you are in the living room, you can’t see the garden, but as you come around the glass pantry, it becomes visible.”

    Pipe dreams

    The only spoiler in the nine-month building process was the discovery after demolition began that there were three sewer lines running through the designated pool area.

    “We had just started when we found out about the sewer lines,” says Liam. “There was one from a neighbour that cut across the site, the main sewer line and then another one down deeper.”

    Plenty of light is evident in the kitchen/living area despite the challenges posed by the

    Plenty of light is evident in the kitchen/living area despite the challenges posed by the site. Source: Supplied

    Just to make it even more interesting, the underground water table quickly revealed itself when excavation started.

    “Every time we dug out a pier, water would pour through,” says Liam. “To pour the concrete for the piers, I hired a super sucker at $5000 a day which vacuums the water out. I’d suck out the water, then we poured the concrete in immediately.” The site required 18 piers in total.

    The home has been transformed from a dated and dark house into a beachside retreat.

    The home has been transformed from a dated and dark house into a beachside retreat. Source: Supplied

    Despite such challenges, Liam is pleased with the result that has transformed a dated and dark house into a beachside retreat in the heart of the city.

    No doubt he’ll be working on another house in the street very soon.

    robyn.willis@news.com.au

    Pictures Simon Wood

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