Secret doors, bright color accents and sustainable design, could this be one of our favorite home stories of 2021?
From the moment photographer Cass and I arrived at Sue Webeck and Sam Tyler’s Ainslie home, we could tell it was a new home designed by Canberra’s sustainable architecture firm Light House. Architecture and Science.
The branded vertical wood paneled garage door immediately revealed it and reminded us of our visit to the home of Light House founder Jenny Edwards over a year ago. I was really looking forward to seeing how Sue and Sam added their own personality to a house that already has such a presence.
The first flash of personalization was the bright yellow front door. It was shining like a hot sun and when it opened three exceptionally affectionate dogs burst out to say hello.
I always feel rude to say hello to dogs before owners, but what am I really supposed to do when they get to me first?
I could hear Sue and Sam calling their names and the children laughing but it didn’t work so I proceeded to walk them around the house like some kind of lord of cute dogs.
Sue and Sam had lived in the Ainslie Block for a few years and hoped to renovate and expand the existing mid-1960s house, but in the end the only sane option was to demolish and rebuild a high-efficiency house. Construction was completed about 16 months ago and luckily the family loves every aspect of it.
An interesting thing about the layout of these sustainable homes is that architects orient the house and rooms to best accommodate the sun, as opposed to the classic orientation facing the street. In this case, that means the utility room and the main bathroom are at the front of the house and lead to the outdoor parking space and the mezzanine.
Sue says they were hesitant about this at first, but quickly realized the benefits of this functional layout reversal. In fact, they love that the master bedroom is now to the side of the house with cooler, darker elements, perfect for calm relaxing and sleeping.
Speaking of the features Sue and Sam love, you’ll see that the ceilings are slanted throughout the house, reminding them all of a dollhouse. For me, this playful feature really brings grandeur and character to energy efficient spaces in the home.
The idea of âânot having medium sized rooms was intentional on Sam and Sue’s part. They specifically wanted their twins, Miya and Elliott, to use their bedrooms as a space to play, rest and relax but not study.
âThere is so much for young minds to deal with these days, so it’s very important that they have a space to get away from it all and connect on a real human level in their bedrooms,â says Sue. “It also encourages the twins to spend time with us in the shared family spaces.”
You can see how much Sue and Sam believe in the value of human contact through the fun secret door between the twins’ bedrooms. Who needs to text when you can just pop your head through that door to play, have a conversation, or just that happy feeling? As CEO of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) ACT, Sue knows that accessing those who care and love you is at the top of the chain.
The common areas of the house are divided between a reading and relaxation room, a kitchen and dining room, then the living room. There are plenty of window nooks, sofas, and other inviting spaces to relax, read, study, or work. There is also a sewing room that Sam uses as a home office, but I had to say a better description would have been a sewing factory.
There were so many fabrics and instruments that Sam uses to create all kinds of wonderful pieces, including quilts for all occasions and moods. I’m sure you’ll see dozens of items around the house that were created by her as well as an impressive collection of works by local artists.
Sam’s collection of objects and his interest in crafts reflects his long life as Director of the Executive Branch of Arts ACT. Obviously, her love for textiles, color, patterns, and craftsmanship is going nowhere fast. Once a sewer, always a sewer.
While we’re on the subject of color, aside from Sam’s clever workmanship, you’ll see that there are bursts of color around the house that really bring energy to spaces. I really liked the colors little Miya and Elliott chose for the bedroom walls, while Cass was mesmerized by the pink kitchen panel.
So much so that it has reignited a healthy debate on whether the front door should be painted this color as well. Many points were brought forward and everyone talked about each other until Sue took matters into her own hands and ended the conversation with this tongue-in-cheek statement: “As funders. , we could get the deciding vote â.
It was hard to argue with such a decisive statement, however, I actually think they should leave it in yellow, and here’s why.
Not only does the yellow door reflect the sunny, energy-efficient aspects of Sam and Sue’s home, but also a glimpse of the playful personalities the family has filled the home with, in abundance. Most importantly, it represents the incredibly warm nature of the people living inside.
Are you planning a move in 2021?
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Editor’s note: This editorial was photographed ahead of the ACT 2021 lockdown and current health guidelines.
Home Stories is offered to you in partnership with ActewAGL.
Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.
Photography: Cass Atkinson