Design Balance: A Contemporary Home by Studio Tate
Brighton, VIC, Australia
Balance is at the heart of the Brighton Residence by Studio Tate, a contemporary family home that finds the delicate equilibrium between crisp contemporary design on the one hand and a warm intimate familial atmosphere on the other.
When Studio Tate were approached to breathe new life into the family home, the clients had lived and raised their family on the site for over a decade so had a clear vision for what they hoped their new home would become. The original house was demolished, but the swimming pool and a single tree were retained. The blossom tree, now located in the courtyard beside the newhouse, became something of a symbol for the clients’ emotional connection to the site, creating a challenge but also a focal point for the design.
“The cherished blossom tree informed much of our space planning and became a wonderful muse throughout the project,” says Alex Hopkins, principal interior designer at Studio Tate. “The ground floor kitchen and dining are cloaked by its foliage, while the upstairs master suite takes in its canopy. The warmth of its changing autumnal character also mirrored our desired feeling for the home to be welcoming and adaptable.”
Referred by a previous client and engaged to undertake the interior design and documentation, Studio Tate worked closely with the client and the architect to drive some of the architectural design elements such as the internal stair and the operable screens to the first floor. Alex explains that Studio Tate enjoy the opportunity to take an integrated approach – “For us, interior architecture doesn’t stop at the doorway” she says. “Our designs integrate with exterior architecture and landscape design to amplify the potential of any space, from both aesthetic and functional perspectives”.
Every room has a connection to the outdoors, whether it be via a window or skylight. “A seamless connection between indoors and outdoors was key for our client”, says Alex. The home establishes a connection to the outdoors from the start through a limestone-clad wall that extends along the entryway. The external timber screens that slide along the facade, designed as a sun-shading device, create a gently dappled light in the interior, while in the living and dining spaces floor-to-ceiling glazing visually bring the lush vegetation in, and extend the space out onto the private garden and deck. The connection with the outdoors is present even in the kitchen, where a glazed kitchen splashback creates an ever-changing panorama.
Yet while the Brighton Residence is integrally connected with the outdoors, it balances the profound sense of openness with a carefully selected materials palette which creates an inviting sense of warmth and comfort. The clients regularly entertain, with family Friday-night dinners that can reach up to 14 guests. The challenge was to create spaces large enough to entertain large groups while maintaining a sense of intimacy for the family home. Studio Tate specified a tactile palette of material palette of two natural stones (serpeggiante limestone and cararra) and two timber veneers (custom brown/black and ebonized black). The darkness of the timber and tactility of the natural materials create depth and warmth while also enhancing a crisp, contemporary monochromatic colour palette.
The central open-tread stair, lit from above by the skylight and bordered by a serpeggiante limestone wall on one side and tactile polished plaster on the other, is a junction between the light airy main spaces of the home and the cosy basement cellar below. While the timber and stone are used throughout the home, creating a sense of continuity and interest, on approach to the wine cellar the finishes correspondingly darken and the lighting becomes more intimate.
Upstairs, the main kitchen and dining spaces are beautiful and functional while entertaining, with an abundance of bench space and a butler’s pantry acting almost as a second kitchen to accommodate several people prepping and cooking at once. The cellar, meanwhile, is also a space for social gatherings, and during the design process it received a significant amount of attention and consideration from Studio Tate. “We took the time to understand the brief for the cellar / wine room to ensure the space would provide what they wanted”, says Alex, “as it turns out the family have now been hosting cellar dinners once a month! The clients have a great sense of style and it was important to ensure this came through via the interior detailing.”
By taking such care to understand the family’s lifestyle and translating them into design solutions, Studio Tate have created a home that supports the lives of its inhabitants, both functionally and aesthetically. Elegant, minimalist and airy while simultaneously being cosy, intimate and welcoming, the Brighton Residence is a truly balanced family home.