Trading Art for Architecture
Perched on the side of a hill overlooking the coastline and expansive greenery below, Tony Coles’ secluded Yandina Creek home is an artist’s haven.
With stunning vistas, which are constantly changing as clouds drift overhead, Tony says he is never short of inspiration when he picks up a paint brush. “I’ve already done about 40 paintings in the garage, which is not bad considering we only moved in eight weeks ago” he says with a grin. “I’ll never get bored of the outlook. I like the shadow play over the trees and patterns of green.”
Sharing the home with daughter Indi, 9, the place is the embodiment of a long-held dream for Tony, who bought the land seven years ago. Biding his time as he saved up to build, Tony’s skills as an artist proved an invaluable asset after he struck up a friendship with Coolum architect Adrian Just, of Archicology Architects, who agreed to design the house in exchange for art.
“I met Adrian at a friend’s birthday party and, coincidentally, he’d just seen one of my paintings in a gallery and was interested in buying it but it had already sold. I said, ‘Well, funnily enough I am looking to get a house designed’, so we ended up swapping art for architecture. He designed the house and I did some portraits of his family” Tony explains.
Both men are thrilled with the result of the exchange and the house remains somewhat of a novelty for Tony, who says, “there is nothing better than looking out to the ocean while you are in bed”.
At just 108 square metres, the house has a pint-sized footprint and big credentials when it comes to ecological principles after scoring the 2009 Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s Living Smart Glossies Award for excellence in sustainable design (for construction under $250,000).
Designed with the northern light and prevailing winds in mind, the house opens out to the north-east to capture the winter sun in the morning while wide openings and louvres help to draw in and control breezes throughout the house. A simple, yet cleverly designed, home, the T-shaped floor plan features three bedrooms and a central kitchen and living area, which opens to a wraparound patio.
The stunning skillion roof extends beyond the house to create wide overhangs that block the harsh summer sun and catch rainwater, which is stored in two 13,000 litre tanks. While rainwater is used for drinking, an on-site sewerage treatment system uses wastewater to irrigate fruit trees.
Tony has incorporated affordable and environmentally sound products and materials in the house wherever possible. Among the features are an on-demand gas-powered hot water system, water-efficient fixtures and fittings, energy efficient appliances, low energy lights, engineered hardwood from sustainable plantation timber and low VOC Resene paints. Building materials such as bricks, aluminium and fibre cement sheeting were also specifically selected because of their low maintenance and durability. By using standard-sized materials, waste was also minimised during construction.
“Adrian was great throughout the whole process” Tony explains. “He designed the house for the climate and our lifestyle and really worked out what I required. And, for me, you can’t go past simplicity. I really love the Japanese style of housing, which is not excessive, and the absence of clutter creates space.”
As an artist Tony had strong ideas when it came to colours for the house. He chose Resene’s Tuna (a shade of charcoal) for the front of the building while the back was painted in Resene’s House White. “I wanted some strong shades and a mix of positive and negative tones to reflect the landscape. By using dark grey on the front it pushes the front of the house forward, while the white pushes the back into the hill” he says.
White walls dominate inside, except in Indi’s bedroom, which is pretty in pink and peppered with posters. In the kitchen, cabinets have been matched in the same charcoal shade as the exterior. For a shot of contrast, the island bench features a panel of ragged copper laminate.
Rather than cover the walls with hooks to showcase his artworks, Tony has installed a gallery hanging system that allows him to freely change paintings whenever he wants to change the look of a room.
Preferring to paint rather than garden, Tony’s plan for his acreage is to regenerate the native varieties rather than establish a lawn. “I don’t want to spend my weekends mowing. It puts out pollution and it disturbs the neighbours so I am happy for the block to go back to the way it was and let the kangaroos take care of molasses grass, which they love,” he says.
Favourite spot – I love spending time on the patio watching the sun rise over the ocean and in the early evenings. We also like the outdoor fire pit and the sitting rock (above). It is a good spot to put your shoes on.
Eco feature – In the external areas a higher content of fly ash was used in the concrete, making it stronger and more durable. By using this high proportion of fly ash, which is made from residues generated in the combustion of coal, less concrete is required in the mix, which reduces the amount of energy required during the production process.
Next project – Because the carport has become my studio, I have plans to enclose it with glass so I can still enjoy the view while I work.