Sensational by design

This spectacular Merewether abode is outstanding in so many ways, but behind the award-winning design is a much-loved family home.

Homeowners Debbie and Craig were enjoying the Master Builders Association’s Awards Night together with their tradesmen, and the night kept getting better and better as their house took out top honours in one category after another. The couple really enjoyed the building process of their new home and couldn’t be happier with the result so they entered he awards as a way of thanking their trades and showcasing their excellent workmanship. They won the categories for Custom Built Homes $2 million to $3 million, Bathroom of the Year and Swimming Pool of the Year. Also, their builder, Richard Fox, was named Housing Builder of the Year, and landscape designer Gerrad Everson from Octopus Garden Design took home Gold in the National Landscape Design Awards for Residential Landscape Design (50- 150 m2) and for Landscape Design Plantscape.

One look around this magnificent home tells you these accolades are well deserved, yet Craig and Debbie’s initial intentions had nothing to do with triumphant trophies. They simply wanted to build a practical family home for themselves and their three sons, who are 9, 15 and 19-years-old; a home that would encourage the boys to stay at home for as long as possible.  The family lived in Adamstown but wanted to be closer to shops, restaurants and the beach. Craig had a busy professional life and was looking forward to parking the car on a Friday night and having everything within walking distance. The resulting brief for their real estate wagent was simple: put a pin point in The Junction and look within a 2km radius, east and south. Within two months she had delivered.

When they bought the plot in 2014 Craig and Debbie knew they’d knock down the existing home and rebuild. Yet fate intervened and Jimmy Velich, their designated builder and close friend, passed away before construction started and the couple needed to take time to come to grips with their loss and to start the search for a new builder. When the time came they spoke to three candidates: “From the beginning Richard Fox stood out,” recalls Craig. “He impressed us with his commitment and made it clear how much he wanted the job. He agreed to our condition that he’d be on site every day and then we just shook hands on it. That’s all that was needed.” The design by architect Stephen Gray from Liquid Architecture Newcastle was also an immediate hit. Craig explains, “Stephen loves natural materials but he doesn’t like straight lines, so there’s always an angle, a twist. When you compare his initial renders to the actual build, it’s amazing how little difference there is.”

Read more about this wonderful home in the Summer issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine.

Story Cornelia Schulze, photography Joshua Hogan