Eco House Western Australia

Okay guys, we’ve got to prepare you for some SERIOUS house envy this morning. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Step inside the Nature-Inspired Eco House – a home where two professionals have poured all their ideas on living into the one space, that today stands as an inspired example of urban sustainable living.

Our Western Australia contributor, Anna Flanders, took a tour of this dream home and chatted to the owners about their vision (and actions!) for a more sustainable future.

Anna Flanders
Supported by Dulux

Inside the WA home of Tanya McKenna, Peter Chadwick and Henri the boxer. The forest green bottle grinders by Menu were gifted to Tanya by her best friends; the vintage amber wine glasses were found at the local tip; the original 1970’s teapot was gifted to Tanya by Peter in Copenhagen; and the handmade hanging plywood light was by Peter. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The height of the interior coupled with the soaring window ‘mosaic’ give the home it’s airy, relaxed feel. The forest-green door was purchased privately by Tanya and Peter from a demolition sale (and is said to be from a mansion once owned by Alan Bond). They painted it Forest Green to match their living room wall. The woven baskets were gifted to Tanya by Carla; the white metal coat hanger was sourced from France on Ebay; the staghorn plant was gifted to Tanya by her parents and reinforced to eco-ply sheeting by Peter. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

‘This is our urban retreat away from the hustle and bustle of life, but still close to everything we love and need. We’re always on the go with busy lives, but we’re always relaxed at home. We love to cook, put on a record and just relax, or host long-table dinners in the courtyard. It’s nice having a smaller space that doesn’t require as much maintenance, too,’ says Tanya. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The kitchen is made from custom pre-finished plywood cabinetry designed by Carla at Etica Studio and made locally by Raw Edge Furniture. Tanya and Peter sourced the Oregon benchtops from a salvage yard. Fridge and appliances are by Smeg and Miele. The oregon staircase and custom metalwork balustrade are by Customised Metal Works , while the light was designed and handmade by Tanya and Peter. Original Danish wall sconces and rattan stools were sourced privately by Tanya, and white tapware is by Astra Walker. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

Carla designed the pantry and Raw Edge Furniture crafted it. Tanya and Peter had it painted Forest Green to bookend each side of the open-plan living area. The Smeg fridge is a smart inclusion in this area, topped with greenery from Tanya’s nan and overlooked by original 60s Danish sconce lights purchased privately off Ebay and rewired by Peter (an electrician by trade). Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

Tanya and Peter sourced the amber glass and vintage windows to create this soaring mosaic of windows. It beautifully works with the recycled rammed concrete (made using crushed concrete rubble from building sites and demolitions) to give a soulful, yet contemporary, backdrop. On the table is a retro vase was gifted to Tanya by her best friend. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

This area is one of the most beautiful areas in the home, where light floods into the space and hits the clean surfaces to add a wonderful warmth. Tanya and Peter bought the original 1960s table from Roofpocket; the pendant light was made by Kira and Kira; and the chairs were sourced privately by Tanya and Peter. Henri also gets to eat in this area, where you can see his dog bowl by Mog & Bone. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The Forest Green walls and white resin flooring bring out the aged, but beautiful, warm timbers in the furniture. ‘It’s a very calming space with lots of warmth. It has soul. The pop of greenery in every room contributes to the soothing atmosphere,’ says Tanya. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

Original 1960s bricks were sourced from a demolition site, then painted white. A concrete plinth has been incorporated into the wall to soften the architecture with displays. The print of Monstera delisiosa is by (By) Garmi from Norsu Interiors and the real interior greenery is by Tanya. The wood fire is by Nectre from Subiaco Restoration. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The main living area is filled with natural materials and a wonderful collection of pieces that have been sourced, handed down and found… the natural jute rug is from IKEA , the original mid-century Danish armchairs from INTOO Collectibles , the 1960s nesting tables were made by Tanya’s late-grandfather and gifted to the couple by their Nana, and the wire chair, vintage speakers and Danish sideboard were all sourced privately. The original Danish retro leather sofa was bought from the now-closed Revival Hill store in Perth. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

Natural light and cross ventilation were designed into the southern side of the home through a custom-made timber hopper window. Peter built the pine shelf above that provides a subtle break into the white-painted brick wall. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The kitchen benchtop was made from locally sourced recycled oregon, which was originally from a pub in Northam, WA. It was carefully repurposed by Raw Edge Furniture into a benchtop. The stairway and grid mesh balustrade was designed by Carla and made by local tradesmen. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The study space sits above the kitchen and dining areas on the home’s mezzanine and is filled with natural light through the home’s two-storey window ‘mosaic’. It’s screened with 1960’s breezeblocks and is incorporated into a long stretch of cabinetry, which was made by local makers Raw Edge Furniture. The lamp is from Angove Street Collective and the vintage rattan stool was purchased privately. On the floor are salvaged Baltic pine floorboards from the original Melbourne Town Hall. Tanya and Peter found them on Gumtree and carefully restored them with local woodworkers. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

Peter handmade the plywood bed to perfectly fit the bedroom space. The vintage amber lights were sourced privately by Tanya and Carla and fitted by Peter. Timber windows were custom made by Furntech Joinery and the bed features the couple’s preferred organic cotton linen bedding from IN BED Store. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

There are two guest rooms in the home and each have the same retro vibe. This one features an original 1970’s double bed sourced privately off Gumtree by Tanya and Peter. They prefer to use organic cotton linen bedding by IN BED Store and have mixed it on this bed with velvet olive green pillow cases by Kip & Co from Remedy in Leederville. The poster is from a bar in Copenhagen and the travel books are a collection of Tanya and Peters. The woven baskets were gifted to Tanya by Carla. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

This is one of Tanya and Peter’s favourite views in the home – looking out through a window to a section of their green roof featuring philodendrons and mother-in-laws tongue. ‘Having greenery permanently in our bedroom is beautiful and calming — it’s a huge credit to Carla,’ says Tanya. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The bathroom is a lesson in simplicity… Cabinetry is by Raw Edge Furniture and tapware by Astra Walker. The mirror cabinetry was fitted by Peter. The couple prefer to use locally made vegan body products by Clean Slate . Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

This was a lucky find! Tanya managed to source a 1970s forest-green bathtub with matching basin from Adelaide for the ensuite. The tapware is Astra Walker and greenery by Tanya. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The northfacing courtyard utilises 1960s breezeblocks and white-painted recycled bricks. The table was made by Peter out of recycled oregon timber to match the interior benchtops and the vintage chairs were purchased secondhand from a salvage yard and repurposed with plywood seats by Peter. The outdoor lighting was also purchased second-hand. The permeable paving and courtyard design are by Tanya and Peter. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

The rear-lane access features a Forest Green roller door in keeping with the theme of the home. You can just spy the green roof, which was installed on two levels of the roof by Deep Green Landscaping with cladding by Scyon , timber window frames by Furntech Joinery. The permeable paving was sourced and installed by Peter and Tanya and the concrete planter made by Peter from left-over concrete in a previous renovation. Greenery by Tanya. Photography – Dion Robeson, styling – Anna Flanders.

Anna Flanders
27th of September 2017

Tanya McKenna and Peter Chadwick are self-confessed ‘passionate renovators’. She’s a sustainability consultant, and he’s a trades manager for a Perth renovation company. Together they are a savvy sustainable-design force… especially teamed with Tanya’s equally as eco-focused architect sister Carla Karsakis of Etica Studio.

It was 2014 when Tanya found the 200sqm urban infill block their home sits on today. At the time, she and Peter were half-way through a two-year renovation of a 1920s cottage, and had just returned from a two-month holiday in Uruguay and Brazil. It was also at this time that Carla launched her architectural studio, so the timing seemed right for a new project.

‘We worked really closely with Carla to maximize the small space into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a huge open-plan living space, dream kitchen and leafy courtyard,’ explains Tanya. ‘We are really close as sisters and we worked well together, bouncing ideas off one another.’

The result is a two storey (or one level with mezzanine) home the couple refer to as ‘The Nature-Inspired Eco House’. They live here with their nine-month-old boxer Henri, a family of indoor plants and the occasional Airbnb guest. This home, however, is as much a place to live, as is it a physical manifestation of the couple’s life philosophy.

‘How we live is not only important for us as human beings, but also for the world,’ says Tanya. ‘If we design living spaces with a lesser environmental footprint – with the earth and our comfort in mind – we’re not only creating beautiful healthy spaces, but we’re doing our bit for the climate. For us, our home demonstrates what is possible.’

Concrete (crushed and repurposed rubble), brick (1960s breeze blocks and reclaimed bricks), timber (revamped Baltic floorboards from the original Melbourne Town Hall fit-out and 1960s windows, doors and skirting boards) and low-VOC paints in Forest Green and white on the walls, with a white resin on the floors, set the palette of the home.

One element that is not seen, but incredibly important is a green roof by Deep Green Landscaping. Solar panels, a solar hot-water system (both by Infinite Energy) and greenery are packed above the house, which is fitting given Tanya is an advocate for the 202020 Vision – a national campaign to increase urban green space by 20 per cent by 2020.

‘As the global population grows and more people live in urban areas, there will be a greater need for the green roof as a heat sink in a warming climate, pollution reduction method, purifier of air and filter system for stormwater runoff, and a space for flora and fauna to increase urban biodiversity,” Tanya explains. The roof is accessed via a Danish-designed Velux skylight thanks to her parents’ company  and she hopes it stands as an example of how residential homes can incorporate such a feature.

When it came to the home’s look and feel, the couple wanted to mix the brutalist aesthetic they had seen on holiday in South America, with the ‘hyggelig’ interiors they had experienced on a six-month visit to Denmark in 2011.

With the reclaimed materials and architectural design taking care of the Brutalist aspect, it was the ‘hygge’ they had to bring in, through furniture and accessories. Pieces throughout the home are a mix of custom designs; family objects, such as the nest of coffee tables made by Tanya’s grandfather and gifted to them by her nan; buys from mid-century stores in Perth; Gumtree finds; and other pieces the couple have sourced over time.

The soaring windows, which are a mosaic of reclaimed 60s clear and amber panes, and an oversized set of French doors, flood the largely white space with natural northern light, creating more of that warmth they were after. The light flows into the bottom and top floors, heating them up in winter and providing views over the neighboring roofs and treetops.

The couple say the home is relaxing in the morning, bright and airy through the day and calming in the evenings. They point to the natural light, fresh air and living greenery throughout the home as the element behind that. Of course, it’s also to do with the soulful materials palette, collections of furniture and objects and the passion and consideration that have gone into the design and build of this project.

‘Our home represents everything about us. There’s something to be said about living in a space that you worked so hard to create – every single thing was thought out. Together with the inner-city location and beautiful outlook, we couldn’t really ask for anything more,’ says Tanya.

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