ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson PHOTOGRAPHY Dion Robeson
With quality design and materials, a smaller home can add up to more than the size of its rooms.
Karin Hearn has carved out her very own inner-city sanctuary in Perth, Western Australia, with the help of David Weir Architects.
At a size of 95-square-metres on a 235-quare-metre section, and with a project budget of AU$275,000 (or just under NZ$290,000), the house is humble but purposeful and well built. It's a creative space both in terms of its architectural design and its function as a home and art studio.
"My brief was to design and craft a modest purpose-built 'atelier' to live and work in," says Karin. "Architect David Weir and I worked pretty closely from the get-go for David to get a feeling for how I wanted to use the spaces and which type of finishes I liked. I learned a lot from him during the design and construction process and we continued to share and refine ideas as the house evolved into its unique self."
And unique it is. David created a cost-effective, quality home and studio with space all around. Great care was taken to retain a beautiful jacaranda tree that somehow seems to 'earth' the home and protect it with its bright green foliage. "We worked around the tree and redesigned our floors and walls a bit to make sure we didn't destroy its massive root system," says David.
Fun and function go hand in hand here. The house has a concrete floor throughout; not only because it's easy to maintain but also to make use of the sun's heat and keep the house warm in winter. Low windows at floor height create interesting views and let in extra light and heat to warm up the concrete slab. White subway tiles with black grout that doesn't show stains are used in the kitchen, the bathroom and some areas of the studio.
The studio part of the house is a specially made prefabricated shed, while the house itself is custom-built and clad in weatherboards.
"The weatherboard walls of the house and the corrugated fibre cement walls of the studio refer to the cottages and workshop sheds that are prevalent in the area," David explains.
"The corrugated cladding was spotted by Karin on an episode of British Grand Designs, so we did a bit of research and worked with a company in the UK to ship it over."
What's truly distinctive, and truly functional, is the translucent corrugated wall of the studio, providing a diffused light ideal for drawing and illustrating.
David says: "We located this material in Italy and it matched our black cladding, so we splurged and shipped that over too. It provides wonderful light all day to the studio."
The interior lining of the studio is a beautiful and hardwearing plywood to withstand all kinds of creative endeavours. And when Karin isn't splashing ink about or otherwise engaged in her work, she has a wonderful living space to retreat to.
The kitchen, living room and bedroom are one open space, however, the bedroom can be separated by pulling a curtain across. Within the open-plan design, the lounge area is set apart by a whitewashed plywood platform that adds a cosiness factor.
In the house part of the building, the walls are painted a stark white - a great canvas for Karin's artwork and also a wonderful backdrop for the different colour highlights found throughout the house.
Karin says: "The big yellow, studio doors are a nod to Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage in Dungeness. The other pops of colour are the muted palette I use in my work, influenced by old faded comics."
There is an orange skylight in the bathroom/wetroom that casts an ever-changing play of yellow to orange light into the room. Coloured doors and the black plywood kitchen catch the eye, along with the illustrator's framed artworks.
The home's composition is a masterpiece in itself. Karin and David's collaboration is brought to life by layers of colour and texture, different wall finishes and roof angles. And yet, the home works as a whole and is 'grounded' and held together by all-encompassing features, such as the concrete floor and the exterior black paint.
"The spaces inside and outside flow effortlessly," smiles Karin. "They're adjustable and adaptable, bright and cool in summer and warm in winter." So, with the jacaranda stretching its branches out over the roof of her abode, Karin can settle in, put down her own roots and get creative.
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All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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