When two architects join forces to design a dream house for their own family, the results are bound to be impressive. Such is the case with the Fremantle home of Emma Williamson and Kieran Wong, the husband and wife team behind CODA architectural and urban design practice.
Emma and Keiran’s home is ‘so new it’s not even finished!’. The pair designed the house together, with Emma even acting as builder for the project. During the build, the family lived in a tiny existing cottage on the front of their block, which meant Emma could meet the trades on site each morning before heading off to work. ‘As client, architect and builder, there were a lot of circular conversations!’ she recalls!
Of course, the downside of being your own builder, is that deadlines do have a tendency to be quite fluid…! Since moving in 7 months ago, though, Emma and Kieran have been on a mission to get things finished. ‘It’s been a real lesson in appreciation’ Emma says. ‘Rather than taking for granted simple things, like being able to enter the house through a front door (!) we have learned to celebrate these things as we have toiled away over weekends finishing the project.’
One of the interesting aspects of this house is that the kitchen and dining room ‘module’ is actually a self contained transportable building that Emma and Keiran already owned (long story!) which they had craned onto the site. This became the starting point for the house design – ‘kind of like a Mr Squiggle’ Emma explains!
Emma is a BIG collector of vintage furniture, and has enjoyed furnishing her new home with much loved pieces accrued over many years. ‘I love that everything has a story, and a certain feeling of confidence from having been around for a while’ she says. Most of her things have been found in junk shops and on Gumtree, but every now and then she falls in love with ‘something a bit more serious!’. She and Kieran are particularly fond of their B&B Italia Alanda coffee table, which they had shipped in all the way from Miami. ‘Getting it here was a series of comic disasters, so now that it is safely ours this story also adds to our appreciation of it’ Emma says!
The family are also passionate art collectors, with an eclectic collection of works especially from West Australian artists, many of whom are friends. One favourite piece is a Tracey Moffatt work, purchased with some prize money Emma and Keiran won in a design competition a few years ago.
‘We have really enjoyed so many things about the house – which is lucky, since we designed it!’ Emma says. They love the small split level between the kitchen and dining spaces, the ‘sunken lounge’, and the relationship to the garden. It’s also been really interesting for them to experience first hand how these design features influence the way the house is used by their family.
‘It’s a very modestly sized house, but we have been careful to create lots of spaces to sit, to connect or be separate’ Emma says, thoughtfully. ‘We have really enjoyed seeing our kids using the house in that way.’