View from the Hills
When Nicole and Peter designed and built their ultimate family home in the semi-rural Hills district of Sydney, they created a space that suited all the needs of their growing family, with a bit of glamour and an amazing view thrown in.
Understanding that the design of a home can influence the everyday ebb and flow of family life, Nicole and Peter Smith built their large Glenorie home on a generous six-acre block. The clever layout incorporates five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study, a formal lounge and dining room, family room, rumpus room, home theatre, gym and a four-car garage. And with three active boys between the ages of six and 12 (and their German shepherd Mac counting as a fourth), the design couldn’t be more perfect.
Originally the land featured a tricky slope – a considerable challenge for designer and builder Peter, who found a solution by constructing the 12 x 6-metre pool first and using it as a base around which to build the main house. “When designing the home the most important feature we wanted to incorporate was the view,” recalls Nicole.
“We face west and have beautiful uninterrupted views of the Blue Mountains. The design was based around the view and the pool and spa.”
BUILDINGS AND BUDGETS
With 17 years of building experience through their business, Peter Smith Constructions, Nicole says the design and build of the home was the easy part. The challenge was keeping within budget.
“When you can design and build anything you imagine, your biggest boundary is cost,” she says. “We didn’t compromise on the building, but we saved money with Peter managing the project and we did the hard and soft landscaping ourselves.
“Where I had to manage the budget was in the finishes, trying to achieve a desired style and finding products that are suitable at a reasonable cost. This is where my interior designer – Heidi Scott Design – really helped, sourcing various materials from her suppliers. Achieving a look that was classic and elegant that wouldn’t date was important to me. I didn’t want to be updating the kitchen in five years’ time!”
A POOL WITH A VIEW
Representing form and function, the swimming pool is located off the family room and accessed via large sliding glass doors. It’s both the central structure of the property and the centre of family life, particularly in summer. And the view from the pool, with towering eucalypts in the foreground and endless mountains beyond, is simply breathtaking.
“The boys use the pool constantly in summer. Some school nights I struggle to get them inside by 8pm, and we also have plenty of visitors,” says Nicole. “We do entertain a lot and the house was designed around that lifestyle. We can be in the kitchen and be a part of the party. With the family room off the kitchen and the pool and cabana just outside the sliding doors, we have a great view of what’s happening.”
A KITCHEN FOR LIVING
Open-plan kitchens and family rooms have become common in modern Australian homes for one very good reason – they work. “We love our kitchen, it’s the hub of the house,” says Nicole. “It’s such a huge open space. Everyone can fit around it so it’s a great design for a family. I can be cooking and watch the children in the pool or riding their skateboards in the courtyard.
The big island bench works well, especially during the week when I’m racing to get dinner ready and I can help the children with their homework at the same time.”
A major design element of the kitchen is the high raked ceiling, a great way to create space and also add dramatic appeal to any room. The Smith’s kitchen ceiling peaks at 5.6 metres, so downlights and skylights were the best lighting options. The high ceiling also allowed for very stylish glass-fronted lift up doors on some of the upper cupboards, which look smart and lift vertically, providing full access to the cupboard.
New appliances were installed when the build was completed, including a DeLonghi electric oven with gas cooktop and a Westinghouse two-door fridge/freezer in a modern stainless-steel fi nish. But Nicole’s favourite kitchen appliances are her two Fisher & Paykel Single Dishdrawer dishwashers – “I just love them!” she says.
Elegant and practical neutral tones are used to great effect in the kitchen and carried through the rest of the house, with Taubmans Kid Skin selected as the main kitchen colour to complement the thick-edged Caesarstone island bench in Snow.
Commodore Architectural Joinery in Arcadia created the kitchen, finishing Nicole’s cabinets in sleek gloss polyurethane in Wilsonart Dune, so they’re durable and easy to clean – an important feature with three hungry boys constantly grazing!
Nicole and Peter have created a welcoming, open, easy family home with touches of understated Hollywood glamour. Frank Sinatra himself wouldn’t look out of place by the azure blue infinity pool, cocktail in hand. “I’d say my style is mixed,” says Nicole. “I do love the look of modern clean lines with no clutter; however, I like my home to feel cosy and not cold and I love the idea of people feeling comfortable and relaxed when they come to visit.”
For all its stylish finishing touches, this house feels every bit the family home – lived in and loved by the very people who created it.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Favourite room: Nicole’s favourite room is her bedroom. “It’s a little hideaway from my three boys,” she admits. “I sometimes take a cup of tea and a magazine and try to quietly slip away with no-one noticing and I feel like I’m in paradise. But it only lasts a short time as they always find me!”
Favourite feature: “My favourite feature of the house is the open plan living area and we all enjoy the outdoor entertainment area with the pool and spa.”
Biggest challenge: “Designing to a budget!” Nicole recommends engaging a professional interior designer to help source products and finishes within budget.
STORY JULIA ANDREWS
PHOTOGRAPHY RYAN HERNANDEZ
STYLING KATHRYN BORGLUND