Ship to shore

This waterfront holiday home reflects its picturesque native bush setting and its boat-only access

View of deck and side of house with apartment, architecture, balcony, cottage, daylighting, deck, estate, facade, home, house, property, real estate, residential area, roof, window
View of deck and side of house with stainless steel balustrade, kwila hardwood decking timber, doors and windows, cedar weatherboards.

Sometimes, it's the isolation that makes a location special and they don't come much more isolated or special than the Marlborough Sounds. But a secluded retreat can pose design and construction challenges, especially when there is no road access.

This new holiday home in the Sounds is accessible by boat only a factor that influenced both the design and materials.

Architect Chris Wilson of Wilson and Hill Architects says the house replaces a 1950s bach that was built closer to the sea, on reserve land. But while the site of the original house was a flat piece of land, the new house needed to sit further back, which means it is positioned on the steep, bush-clad hill.

"Every single item used in the project had to be transported by barge and man-handled onto the site. This determined the choice of a timber construction," Wilson says. "But the vertical cedar cladding is also a design response to the site. It blends in with the natural surroundings and the tree trunks, and will be left to weather."

Wilson says low maintenance was another consideration in addition to the cedar cladding, the house features powdercoated aluminium windows and a marine-grade Colorsteel roof.

"The simple palette of materials also suits the casual holiday lifestyle, and the owners' desire for a house that wouldn't be fussy."

Owner/architect agreement. area, document, font, line, paper, text, yellow, yellow
Owner/architect agreement.

To accommodate the steep slope and to ensure the view could be enjoyed from all the rooms, the house has two storeys, with the entry on the lower level. The house is also defined by its stepped facade.

"The cantilevered bedroom on the left projects out towards the sea, while the dining and living rooms are stepped back," says Wilson. "This gives much-needed depth to the front elevation the house would otherwise have lacked relief and not responded to this spectacular site."

Steel framing around the cantilevered architectural elements also provides visual relief. And the pergola extending from the living and dining rooms has a similar role, says Wilson.

"As well as enhancing the visual depth, the pergola casts interesting shadows. It also brings a frailty to the elevation, so that visually it is not too abrupt."

The simple material palette continues inside the house, with several cedar walls reaching into the living areas.

"Bringing the timber wall elements back into the house creates a sense that the boundary between the inside and outside is dissolving the exterior elements come inside to meet you," says Wilson.

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View of the bathroom which features wakk tiling, floor tiling, toilet, shower enclosure, shower fittings, basin, vanity and tapware, mirror and lighting.

To maximise the view while providing a low-maintenance alternative, the deck balustrading has stainless steel rigging wires. The marine reference is also appropriate, says the architect.

The view is further enhanced by fully glazed walls with sliding doors. Instead of dividing the glass with opening windows, Wilson chose to provide narrow wood louvres within the stepped sections of the cedar walls. The louvres can be opened to allow sea breezes to ventilate the interior naturally. Opening the louvres also opens up the view through the house.

Further visual links are provided by an interior window between the living room and master bedroom.

"When the owners are here by themselves, they can open this up so the entire top floor effectively becomes one large space," says Wilson. "We didn't want the interior to be too compartmentalised, preferring to provide a continuity of space for a very relaxed, holiday feel."

The kitchen continues the streamlined look of the interior. Pale pebble-grey cabinets are paired with a white stone benchtop and glass splashback, and most of the appliances are integrated. The main bench is open to the dining area, but positioned between two walls. This ensures the cook can enjoy the view and socialise with guests while working in a clear space.

The master bedroom and ensuite are also positioned to maximise the view, as are the two guest bedrooms on the lower level. All these rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows with a narrow strip of timber flooring designed to protect the carpet from the harsh summer sun.

Credit list

Ian Askew (Blenheim)
Western red cedar weatherboards
Kwila hardwood
Door and window hardware
Accent Lighting
Blinds, drapes and furniture
Maison Decor
Kitchen cabinets
Glass from Armourclad
Kitchen tapware
Oven and cooktop
Fisher & Paykel
Fisher & Paykel integrated
Bathroom tapware
Methven Futura
Shower fittings
Methven Satinjet
Floor tiles
White Horse Lambardo porcelain tiles
Kitchen and bathroom manufacturer
Dimond Trimdek Colorsteel Maxx
Doors and windows
Vantage Architectural Series and Metro Series from Hagley Aluminium
Victorian ash tongue-and-groove
Paints and varnishes
Heating and air conditioning system
Audiovisual supplier
Dicom Electronics
Iceberg Gran Marbello granite
Riva Mercer from Mico Plumbing
Häfele flush door pulls
Parmco in-wall Airbox
Bathroom basin
Duravit Starck 3 from
Caroma Opal
Wall tiles
Ceramic tiles from The Tile Shoppe

Story by: Trendsideas

11 Mar, 2009