The creation of ‘Stonelea’ by Matthew Woodward Architecture started with a photo of three generations: grandparents, their five children, and a ‘swarm’ of grandchildren in tow.
‘It is a special place where the children (big and small) swim in the river, lunch on log benches, ride horses, grow veggies and pick fruit from the many fruit trees,’ is how the architects describe the site.
This project was to be a country retreat for them all – a new home to house a lifetime of past and future memories.
Having owned the Blue Mountains site for several years already, the owners had grown attached to the location of an existing cottage on site. The siting of this cottage was contrary to the common practice of finding the most attractive and pronounced position on the rural site, but was nothing Matthew Woodward’s expertise couldn’t overcome.
Aesthetically, the clients were interested in emulating one of the traditional barn style country houses they’d seen on Pinterest. ‘We liked the direction they were heading but thought we could make the home be more reflective of its place in the Blue Mountains, NSW,’ says principal architect Matthew Woodward.
Drawing on the local shed vernacular instead, a single, pitched form was created, alongside a new pool.
The new house’s material palette is distinctly Australian, encompassing recycled hardwood timber shiplap wall cladding, metal sheets, and local stone. Pink granite from the former cottage’s chimney pillar was retained in a nod to the home’s past.
The interiors contain various entertaining areas to congregate and engage with the beauty of the place, including a dining table suitable for a minimum 14 people. Matthew’s favourite space is the main living room with the fireplace on one side, and sliding doors that retract back behind walls on the other, creating an outdoor pavilion-like space.
Despite the new house sitting in the exact same location as its predecessor, the clients say they never could have imagined the views being so spectacular.
‘To sit in this room with the roof hovering above, listening to the sound of bird songs, while looking to the ridge-top mountain to the south is particularly memorable and leaves a lasting impression following one’s visit,’ Matthew says.
‘We really had a great team of contractors and consultants on this project who pulled together to collaborate on making something we all believed to be very special.’