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A Serene, Handcrafted Home In Byron Bay

Homes

After moving into a converted cowshed at the end of her parents’ property (!) in Byron Bay, architectural designer Zana Wright and her partner, builder Sam Jolly designed and built this absolutely stunning new self-contained home on the property. Honestly, have you ever seen anything so serene?

The new house is made of local materials, and is deeply connected to the environment. The deal is that Zana, Sam and their baby Lumi rent the home they designed and built for the moment, with Zana’s parents set to move in later when they are ready to downsize. Everyone wins!

6th November, 2019

The kitchen cupboard faces in the Living Pavilion were made by Sam & Zana from one slab of blackbutt timber. The concrete slab has a helicopter finish & is oiled with a natural Livos oil. At the desk are a zigzag chair made by joiner friend Christian Moerhke, and a Lavitta chair from Great Dane. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A window nook daybed connects the indoor living room to the outdoor living room. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sam, Zana and baby Lumi when she was brand new! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The kitchen, with all joinery built by Sam & Zana from local blackbutt timber, & hoop pine plywood offcuts leftover from building the ceiling. The slatted bottom shelf above the sink works as a draining rack. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The entry into the Living Pavilion. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Inbuilt joinery in the Living Pavilion, with artwork by Jasper Legge, and woven baskets by Zana. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The Living Pavilion, with walls built from rammed earth using locally sourced material, and ceiling built from Australply hoop pine plywood grown and manufactured in South East Queensland. The chair is a mid-century Brazilian design by Jean Gillon and was picked up at friend Rosie Browne’s Byron Bay vintage store, Hawker. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The outdoor living room with hardwood timber sourced from North-Eastern NSW, and floor made from columnar basalt stepping stones surrounded by river stones. The vintage metal chairs are also from Hawker. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Looking from the outdoor living room into the Sleeping Pavilion & beyond to the outdoor bathroom. The Sleeping Pavilion has an earthen floor handmade by the owners, from clay excavated from the building site, combined with sand, local sugarcane mulch and lime. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The Sleeping Pavilion, with zigzag bedside table also made by friend Christian Moerhke, and bed linen by In Bed Store.Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The wall niche is painted with clay excavated from the building site. Attached to the wall above are mud wasp nests which appeared there soon after the house was built. ‘Paddle-pop rocks’ were collected from a beach at Crescent Head. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The view from bed, looking down into the native bushland of Zana’s parents’ property. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The outdoor bathroom/laundry which looks into a lush garden encircled by a stone retaining wall built from locally sourced columnar basalt. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The spectacular home in all its glory! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 6th November 2019

‘The house encourages you to walk outside to move between spaces, which brings you out of your head and back into your body’ – Zana Wright.

OK so we’ve shared a few homes from the Byron / Northern NSW area recently… but this one really has stolen our hearts! Architectural designer Zana Wright co-designed this home for her parents to live in as they get older, working alongside Alice Nivison of Fresh Prince Studio. Zana’s parents have lived on this land for the past 12 years, and a few years ago Zana came to stay in a small converted cowshed at the end of the property… and never left. Zana, Sam and Lumi are currently renting this stunning home from Zana’s parents, until they are ready to downsize and move in. Everybody wins!!

The house is designed to have a ‘minimal environmental footprint’ and is informed by the local context in a very material way. Zana explains that ‘place’ is built into the home, by utilising primarily local materials. The home is constructed from earth, stone and Australian hardwoods, all locally sourced. Zana worked with local sustainable builders Balanced Earth, who her partner Sam works for. Zana, her Dad and Sam also collaboratively built the joinery, kitchen, bathroom and earthen floors. This home is a TRUE family affair!

Through the design of this home, the family is connected to the changing cycle of the seasons, and the knowledge that a change of wind conditions mean the surf might be pumping! Zana is both romantic and realistic about the open-plan design, explaining ‘having parts of the house situated outside undercover is climatically appropriate for our subtropical bush location, however, we do still have a winter, during which I enjoy how the house forces you not to become too precious!’

When Zana talks about the home being connected to place, she means literally MADE of its surroundings! She describes the interior styling as ‘simple and honest’ with the construction materials visible in the finished design. These earthy and raw tones and textures serve as a backdrop for the family’s collection of handcrafted artworks and object – made by Zana and Sam, their family or swag of creative pals!

Zana’s favourite space is the outdoor bathroom (and only partly because it never really needs a clean!). She communicates the pure joy of standing under a hot shower in chilly winter air under the milky way overhead.

While this might all sound and look like an absolute dream, Zana flags that the build wasn’t without its difficulties. Building with local materials sounded like a sensible and relatively easy idea at the outset, but, incredibly, it wasn’t always the more convenient or cost effective option. Zana explains that counterintuitively ‘I found that using natural and recycled materials over standardised materials bought from the hardware store usually involved extra labour, which was difficult to reconcile with the budget.’

Despite from these minor setbacks, Zana and family cherish the home they’ve created here. It’s been a truly collaborative labour of love, and Zana, Sam and Lumi are fully embracing their current living arrangements, until it is time to hand over the keys to her parents!

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.