Depending on who you ask, designing a home for your parents could be either a dream or nightmare job. Luckily for Madeleine Blanchfield, it was the former!
The architect’s parents initially tasked her with designing their holiday house in Bendalong, on the NSW South Coast, but the result was so successful, they now live here full time!
Madeleine’s parents were open to a contemporary house from the outset, but nothing too flashy.
‘They are humble people, and wanted to build something that would not appear too bulky or ostentatious from the street and would not impact neighbours or the village feel that Bendalong has.’ Madeleine explains. Given the number of much-loved, owner-built homes in the area, this latter point was especially important.
In response, Madeleine devised a ‘simple and unassuming’ home that surround the living area. ‘We chose to expose the structural system and referred to the simple post and beam type of system that is common in beach houses, with a little more detail and finesse,’ she says.
The parents were also seeking a close connection to the outdoors, hence the home’s fully retractable windows that enclose the ground floor. ‘We wanted maximum flow between spaces, so glass opens in the corners and stacks away, leaving very little but the roof when open,’ says Madeleine. To overcome issues of privacy, operable timber screens were installed, and the traditional front terrace was placed at the rear. ‘[It’s] unusual, but makes it private and sheltered.’
Not long after this home’s completion, the 2019-2020 bushfires ravaged the NSW South Coast, and came very close to ruining this family’s painstaking creation. Madeleine recalls, ‘The bushland surrounding Bendalong was ablaze for weeks, some of it only metres from the house. Plants around the base of the house were singed, and there were many nervous days unsure whether it was lost.’
Fortunately the home was built to BAL – 19 standards, and thanks to the tireless work of the Rural Fire Service, it was able to be saved.
Visit the home today and not only is it standing strong, you’ll likely see others outside taking photos of its beauty! ‘My parents invite them into the living pavilion, which is separate to the bedrooms and very communal,’ Madeleine says. ‘Exactly the spirit of the area we were hoping to embrace!’