Modern Sydney Home Atop Steep Hill Offers Views, Comfort

With vision and creativity, architects have transformed steep, rocky slope into a spacious home with distant views to Sydney harbor. Located in the eastern suburbs of this Australian City, the home is generous and livable residence that sits on an irregular plot that was a challenge to the designers. The stylish house encompasses 940 square meters and features lots of light as well as a pool tennis count and tennis pavilion. Designed by Sydney’s MHDNU, the house has a narrow facade because of the limited amount of road frontage.

The carved-out stone boulders highlight the angular lines of the house.View in gallery
The carved-out stone boulders highlight the angular lines of the house.

Architects had to expand the entry to the site by cutting into the sandstone boulders that lined the property. The excavation allowed them to position a wide and welcoming entry staircase that hugs the rock face on its way up to the house. The concrete treads are wide and cantilevered, curving along the stone on the way up to the main entry door. Ample stairs make the entry to the house feel grander and allow visitors to appreciate the stone wall.

The concept of the house is a set of two pavilions that surround a central courtyard. The aim was to a design that has spaces flowing from inside to outside. The design also lets both pavilions have eastern and northern light at various times of the day.

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Low maintenance ground cover fills the space between the stairs and the driveway.

The garage space makes excellent use of the bottom level area that is closest to the street and the entryway, where living space is less desirable. The mixed building materials and various levels above create visual interest on this modern home.

The main concept of the house is a set of two pavilions that surround a central courtyard. The aim was to create a design that has spaces flowing from inside to outside. The layout also lets both pavilions have eastern and northern light at various times of the day. Because the site is so irregularly shaped, it is set as close as legal possible to the western property line, away from the neighboring property. this also increased the sunlight and the views.

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The cantilevered sections are the most striking element of the facade.

The main floor level for the home is a unique mix of formal and informal spaces on different levels. It also includes a large covered terrace outside by the pool. The central part of the house is an open plan, modern space for the kitchen and living room. Plenty of glass and concrete walls lay the foundation for a comfortable, but somewhat minimalist decor that features low furnishings and dramatic pendants. An added bonus is that with the way the concrete wall is constructed, it allows a view of the pool outside to run along the floor, underneath the shelf.

In the family dining area, a long wooden table is paired with a bench on one side and stools on the other, which helps open up the nightlines across the room. The dark and dramatic netted pendants are the dominant feature in the room, drawing the eye up. Small black ceiling lights serve as another dark accent without detracting from the other decor elements.

The open plan living space is modern and comfortable.View in gallery
The open plan living space is modern and comfortable.

A view from above shows all the low-slung furnishings, from the comfortable sprawling sofa, the angled woven leather chairs, versatile stump-like stools and two ottomans that, with the tray, can also serve as a coffee table. It is a wide-open space that’s perfect for family time or entertaining. The window offers a view of the tennis courts outside, which was retained from the original site.

Comfortable furnishings are the centerpiece of the casual family space.View in gallery
Comfortable furnishings are the centerpiece of the casual family space.

Throughout the home, the seamless flow from one space to another is enhanced by the palette of materials used, which include dark metal, timber, stone and off-form concrete. The interiors are textural, somewhat spare and decidedly modern. The beautifully designed interiors reflect the client’s understanding of materiality, form and space, and strong sense of style.

The view from the family room into the kitchen shows how the sleek look follows through. The cabinetry has a wood finish, but is devoid of hardware, enhancing the minimalist concept. The large island is a dark accent, highlighted with paneled wood on the side, and has room for four bar stools at the counter. Again, the bulk of the space has wide open sight lines, thanks to the furniture choices and overall design.

The kitchen is sleek and unobtrusive.View in gallery
The kitchen is sleek and unobtrusive.

To keep the open plan flowing freely, the bar stools fit in a specially designed section of the island, keeping the traffic area wide open. Punctuated by a few stainless steel fixtures and appliances, the kitchen also features unobtrusive lighting, extending from the wall above the kitchen. Again, this complements the dramatic pendants and does not detract from their role as a focal point. The addition of a white plane of material above the kitchen counter area adds a slight accent.

Long and spacious, the kitchen features a dark wooden island.View in gallery
Long and spacious, the kitchen features a dark wooden island.

The house includes a formal dining room and many of the design elements echo the less formal family room space. The concrete wall, similar color palette and grouping of netted pendant lights above the table provide design continuity. A built-in sideboard and shelving are the same dark wood as the dining table, flanked by unique, dark-toned chairs. White columns and the plain ceiling keep the room light and airy.

Large netted pendants are grouped together in place of a chandelier.View in gallery
Large netted pendants are grouped together in place of a chandelier.

Looking from the formal living room into the dining room, the concrete pillars that forma partial wall are the main architectural focus. They provide a visual barrier but still allow light to filter in from the large windows in the living room. This view also shows the curtained floor to ceiling windows that are found in virtually every space in the home.

The concrete pillars go with the modern feel of the space.View in gallery
The concrete pillars go with the modern feel of the space.

Next to the concrete pillar wall is a large window that can be opened and pivoted to a perpendicular position. This allows for the flow of people onto the terrace and for fresh air to get in. It’s a magnificent feature that could work in many homes where the weather is a bonus.

Glass doors that pivot help fuse the outdoors with the indoors.View in gallery
Glass doors that pivot help fuse the outdoors with the indoors.

The formal living room is almost a clone of the family room area. A similar sofa anchors the furniture arrangement, which is accented with a coffee table, two round embellished stools, and a concrete shelf/bench that runs around the right-hand side perimeter of the room. At the center of the concrete focal wall, a massive TV screen sits above a modern fireplace. The same black accent lights grace the ceiling.

The minimalist formal living room has an industrial edge thanks to the concrete and ceiling lights.View in gallery
The minimalist formal living room has an industrial edge thanks to the concrete and ceiling lights.

Up the stairs to the first floor, there is  a master retreat tat capitalizes on the northerly views. The children’s bedrooms are located above on the top floor. Part of the master suite area include a stunningly siren bathroom with plenty of space and all the spa-like amenities one could wish for. The walls and cabinetry are done in a neutral wood tone and paired with plain white walls.

A light and airy bathroom like this is just like a spaView in gallery
A light and airy bathroom like this is just like a spa

The double vanity is wide and spacious, enhanced with two individual mirrors. The tiles wall behind the mirrors features natural stone and the shelf underneath is slatted. Truly designed like a spa.

Calm and functional, this is a perfect arrangement for a master bathroom.View in gallery
Calm and functional, this is a perfect arrangement for a master bathroom.

Opposite the vanity is a large wooden wall fronted by the large free-standing soaking tub. Overall the design continues the light-colored palette with the only dark elements being the bathtub hardware and hooks. Another nice touch is the subside table that has room for bathing essentials. Behind the wall is a large and roomy walk-in shower room.

A soaking tub takes center stage in the large and open bathroom.View in gallery
A soaking tub takes center stage in the large and open bathroom.
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The spacious shower room is a separate space, allowing both parents to get ready at the same time.

Outside in the back, a long rectangular swimming pool abuts the house. At the end of the pool, which is enclosed by a glass wall, is the covered courtyard. All these elements make the backyard an enjoyable, relaxing oasis in the neighborhood. The exterior concrete wall along the pool mimics the wall inside the family room, unifying the interior and the exterior.

The pool runs along the side of the house, bounded by a glass wall.View in gallery
The pool runs along the side of the house, bounded by a glass wall.

Alongside the pool is a tennis court. An existing tennis pavilion on the property was converted into a guest house with an added floor for a new gym. The court adds an open expanse to the back yard with a wide view thanks to the glass wall surrounding the pool.

The tennis court is an added amenity for family as well as guests.View in gallery
The tennis court is an added amenity for family as well as guests.

The architect’s model photo provides a good overview of the design: The two pavilions aligned on the long, thin lot and the pool flanking the house do more than just make the most of the tight space. They create a singular space that is stylish, functional and extremely comfortable.