Designing a home is a balancing act at the best of times, but this performance takes on a whole new meaning in the Balancing Home by Luigi Rosselli Architects and Alexandra Donohoe of Decus Interiors. The upper level exterior of this young family’s suburban home quite literally appears to be balancing, setting it far above the rest – inside and out.
The home’s foundations are laid on a site Luigi Rosselli Architects dubbed “bland and anodyne”, in a recently established suburb in Sydney’s North Shore. The last thing the client wanted was the sterile, hollow and hard edges of some ‘modern architecture’ environments, so for this new home, the designers looked backwards. The approach was to “bring a suitcase of memories”, with familiar traditional building forms. From the outset, you can recognise gable roofing, superposed and crossed, and a barn-like white timber that forms the upper floor. Stretching from east to west, the bedrooms cantilever over the smaller living quarters. Hanging in the balance over the entrance and the pool, these first-floor wings provide both a covered porch and backyard terrace. In the warmer months, all of the bedrooms are kept cool by a combination of plywood external shutters, cross ventilation and a large gap in the roof space; both environmentally-aware and design conscious.
The authentic timber construction is balanced out by a solid ‘oxblood red’ masonry base, in memory of the ‘hearth colour’ used in bricks. Learning from past comforts, the home is framed by old-time steel windows and doors. Inside, Architect Edward Birch’s joinery is on magnificent display. A stand-out in our opinion is the post-industrial, walnut-stained storage unit with woven aged brass mesh, where books “have become cups and saucers”. While some may think it boring to comment on storage, when storage is so readily available and thoughtfully integrated we can’t help but notice. Luigi Rosselli Architects have made it clear family life is accommodated for, right down to the hardy concrete flooring.
Likewise, Alexandra Donohoe of Decus Interiors has created interior spaces that are made for a family while finding comfortable ground between modern and traditional design. Elegant detailing is abound, in the marble benchtops, vaulted cathedral ceilings of steel reinforced trusses and dark oak flooring. Upon entry, 19th-century inspired encaustic tiles reflect a sense of ageless design, just as the artful collection of objects in the adjacent living room. In the company of white walls, sheer curtains and textural, rich-coloured furnishings, each space is soft and refined.
Time and time again we are reminded that collaborative efforts between masterful architects and interior designers are a force to be reckoned with, and the Balancing Home is a case in point. Together, the team has struck a balance between tomorrow’s contemporary sensibility and yesterday’s enduring quality of design.
Broadline glass frequents each space, inviting a stream of natural night. For Luigi Rosselli Architects, this is a reminder of acclaimed architect Le Corbusier’s motto: “Architecture is the mastery of correct and magnificent play of masses, brought together in light.”
Breaking up the home’s clay-coloured base are full height sliding doors, concealed in the wall cavities, that connect the courtyard with the internal living area.
This far-from-ordinary home stands out from the suburban set with extraordinary design elements.