Having lived in so many houses over the years, we knew exactly what we wanted with this one. This would be our ultimate forever house.
We asked Madeleine Blanchfield to design a place with all the living spaces and the main bedroom on one level, a Japanese garden-courtyard, an entrance that made a statement, and to make sure we capitalised on the northerly sun and views.
It started with getting the right block. Many of the blocks in Mosman run east-west but we managed to find this property that runs ninety degrees to the others and faces due north. We get the sun and the privacy with water views and lots of greenery.
Bellevarde’s Adam Howe built our previous house in Newport and we were so glad to have him in charge of this project. He is just the best builder. Amazing. He has the respect of all the contractors and staff as well as the architects. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s always calm and he’s very practical. It takes a certain skill to interpret what the architect designs and turn it into something that can be made practically. Adam is all about good and functional solutions that are also beautiful. He’s ever-mindful of the fact that you’re going to be living here.
I like a minimalist design aesthetic. We chose to restrict the main materials to wood, marble and concrete, primarily in black and white. The pantry and much of the storage space is hidden away behind fine joinery. With such simplicity of form, there’s more emphasis on the finish. Bellevarde, together with Sam Harris from Square Peg Joinery, did a superb job.
Many of the parts are custom designed and made and Adam took charge of that process with his usual aplomb. The handle to open the door of the cupboard where the fridge is took over a month to get right, with different iterations finally leading to something that was elegant but would let you pull the heavy fridge door with enough leverage.
Again, in the bedroom, we wanted to ensure that many things would be out of sight. The phone charging area becomes a bedside table, the toothbrush power points are tucked away. We would decide on the functional things we wanted, Madeleine would design, and Adam implemented. It was a great synergy.
Adam’s input is evident in a thousand beautiful and well-crafted details. The headrest in the bath is one of my favourites. It sounds like a simple thing but it took some thoughtful refinement and time to get the angle just right so it would be comfortable. Adam knows all the best tradespeople, like the talented stonemason who made the bath itself. The handles for the heavy bathroom drawers are another triumph. I wanted to be able to open them from the top instead of the bottom. In consultation with Adam, Sam, and the stonemason we devised an elegant recessed handle at just the right height.
The entire build was marked by this type of attention to detail from Bellevarde. We didn’t face any major challenges, just refinements and making the seemingly small things perfect. The stairs, for example, look effortless but required a lot of clever engineering and fine joinery to achieve that floating effect.
Bellevarde recommended Michael Bates who designed the succulents garden on the upper level and we’re very happy with it. The lower garden lawn area was previously a little narrower and Michael suggested we increase the width. As avid golfers, we added a golf hut with a simulator, putting green, and a replica of the famous “road hole” bunker from St Andrews Old Course.
It’s such fun to spend time here. We’re delighted with this place and to have been involved, together with the architects, in such a rewarding collaboration with Bellevarde.