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!