minimalist home blending into the bush
– jessica & ben, the barn house
Jessica and Ben are in their 20s, both busy professionals establishing successful careers. Their dream was to build a timeless home in Northern Tassie that felt like it had always been there, nestled in the bush like the historic barns in the area. A place where they could switch off and relax close to nature on a private bush block.
When they approached us they had a firm budget and clear ideas about the style and feeling they wanted to achieve in their home. However they had no firm idea about how, or even where, to build.
This was Jess and Ben’s first home build, and part of their financing strategy was to list the home with AirBnB on weekends, for the first year, to offset the costs. The home has been extremely popular, enabling them to charge a premium rate which has made a significant contribution to their finances.
As a young couple, Jess and Ben also wanted a home that could meet their needs now, and into the future. They wanted a gym space to work out, a shed to store their belongings while the place was tenanted, and outdoor places to commune with nature – including an outdoor tub.
The home is on a stunning, private, bush block, nestled at the foothills of the Dial Range, 10 minutes’ drive from Penguin. But it had a number of issues that had kept it on the market for a long time. There was awkward site access, especially due to a steep incline, and no service connection or even a driveway.
We came on board before purchase, visiting the site to conduct a pre-build feasibility, which gave the couple confidence that their dreams could be realised. Our first step was to excavate and lay down infrastructure, including constructing a road, wastewater system, water tanks, and connecting power.
As keen entertainers, Jess and Ben wanted a beautiful kitchen with plenty of space to cook, including a walk-in pantry, and roomy open areas with a smooth transition between indoors and outdoors. Outside the house, the double carport, water tanks, wastewater treatment system and shed were carefully placed to avoid sightlines and offer practical access to the house.
Due to the steep terrain, significant excavation was required. The house was designed with a long, thin shape (6m wide) to sit along the contour of the hill and reduce the size of the cut and fill. Earthworks were also designed around the future landscaping plans for the site.
Health and wellbeing are a high priority for Jess and Ben. One bedroom was designed as a gym, with rubber matting under the floor and walls lined with cement sheeting instead of plaster, to avoid damage from heavy objects. If their needs change, the couple can convert this room into a bedroom.
To allow plenty of space to connect with nature and recharge from their working lives, there’s a window seat to catch the sun, and an outdoor bath on the deck which takes advantage of the private bush surrounds. Windows are designed to face the best views of the bush and the dam below the house, and allow for cross-ventilation and airflow.
Jess and Ben have a simple, natural, and minimalist style. To achieve the stripped-down look they wanted, we used concealed gutters, custom-designed stainless-steel downpipes, and an architrave-free interior fitout. We clad the building in raw, natural timber that will grey with age and blend into the bush surrounds.
The couple wanted a long, well-lit corridor to display their art collection. We used a raked ceiling to elevate and add interest to this space. Working with Jess’s image research, our interior designer created a luxurious feel through brushed-brass tapware, crushed granite render, timber vanities, concrete basins and feature lighting.
Using a simple rectangular plan we achieved the ‘barn’ style that Jess and Ben were looking for, and also an extremely cost-effective and reliable design. The secondary wastewater system treats wastewater and pumps it underground to the garden. Rainwater is also collected onsite.
The home is heated with a simple wood stove, but foam insulation in the slab, double-glazed windows and passive solar design keeps it comfortable. The large windows face north to catch the sun, which heats the slab and transfers warmth throughout the house.
Natural, raw timber was used throughout the home – it will weather naturally without the need for treatment.
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