Merimbula home shows future-proofing for age can be stylish and practical

Daryl, 81 and Lynne, 74 Jennings needed their home to be future-proofed by including elements like wheelchair friendly access and a lift. Photo Ellouise Bailey.
Daryl, 81 and Lynne, 74 Jennings needed their home to be future-proofed by including elements like wheelchair friendly access and a lift. Photo Ellouise Bailey.

A locally-designed and built Merimbula home on NSW's South Coast has received international recognition.

Myrtle Mountain-based designer Kelli Rieck was nominated as a finalist for the Building Designer Association of Australia awards and the property received a high commendation at the Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) for its clever design aspects.

"Every building should be designed with the site situation in mind," Ms Rieck said.

Sunlight floods through the entryway and heats up the concrete. The stairwell is the main circulation area. It features a glass wall and connects the whole house.

Sunlight floods through the entryway and heats up the concrete. The stairwell is the main circulation area. It features a glass wall and connects the whole house.

"The house follows the shape of the land, which is a unique wedge shape. The centre of that wedge shape is your entry and your circulation space that really connects the whole house.

"The stairs and the lift connect the whole house, in the entry you're in this beautiful warm space as the central stairs and lift provide a stacked ventilation that provides thermal mass."

Despite being located on a main road, the home takes advantage of the water views.

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Materials such as double glazing on the windows and a thicker fibre cement product reduces sound transfer from the road.

Ms Rieck has previously worked on large scope building projects including high rises, but said residential homes provided the chance to design unique spaces that are both resilient and functional.

But it's not just an award-winning design.

Despite being located on a main road in Merimbula, the home takes advantage of the water views and the lower level outdoor entertaining area connects seamlessly with the indoor space.

Despite being located on a main road in Merimbula, the home takes advantage of the water views and the lower level outdoor entertaining area connects seamlessly with the indoor space.

The philosophy behind this home was meant so that its mature residents Daryl and Lynne Jennings would be able to remain in their home for longer.

"We needed a house that was suitable for elderly people, it's wheelchair friendly, there's no steps on any of the doors," said Ms Jennings.

"The garage goes straight into this main level and then into the laundry or mud room.

"It's about eliminating steps and trips."

Lynne demonstrates how her dishwasher drawer is pulled out and then raised to make dishes more accessible. Photo: Ellouise Bailey

Lynne demonstrates how her dishwasher drawer is pulled out and then raised to make dishes more accessible. Photo: Ellouise Bailey

"There's even little things like on our dishwasher, the bottom drawer lifts up and our washing machine is higher to save us from bending over or crouching down."

Multi-generational living 

The house was set up so that it could be a four-bedroom house to accommodate family members or so that the bottom level could easily be set up for a caretaker.

Ms Rieck said that people looking to future proof their homes is a very common request as well as designing homes that could work for multi-generational families.

The lower level could easily be converted into a separate living area for family members or a caretaker. The wet bar could easily be converted into a kitchenette.

The lower level could easily be converted into a separate living area for family members or a caretaker. The wet bar could easily be converted into a kitchenette.

"Obviously the rising price of housing and land is an issue, so seeing people do renovations to future proof their homes, or moving into more multi-generation living should be a big focus for people."

She also said that there are also options for people looking to separate different levels in their homes, either to rent out or to house family members which might be the case for those with aging parents.

Construction materials play a big part

"The life of the materials is also important, you want to make sure that they are going to work for you so you don't have to get up on ladders to paint," Ms Rieck said.

"So consider what materials you are using. Generally you get what you paid for, if something is cheap it isn't going to last as long."

The home takes full advance of the stunning water views over Merimbula Lake looking out towards Fishpen. Photos: Chris Erickson.

The home takes full advance of the stunning water views over Merimbula Lake looking out towards Fishpen. Photos: Chris Erickson.

"But if you love a certain material, there's all different tricks and treatments."

"For example if you have pergolas, they can reduce heat on the north side which is where the majority of your sunlight comes from. Pergolas will help negate the real heat gain in summer.

"On the south side generally you will see mold growing so you want something easier to clean.

"The west side gets flogged with the sun and heat, so you want a material that can withstand those extremes.

"All of this needs to be taken into consideration when designing a home as each block of land that you're working with is different. It's always contextual and you need to get advice for your particular situation."

She said it was worth getting design advice before getting a builder in.

The process for drawing up plans and building Mr and Mrs Jennings future-proofed home began in 2017 and the design and build process took about three years to complete.

"It takes time. I'm always trying to get people to appreciate the time that you spend and the value of that."

This story Highly acclaimed home shows future-proofing for age can be stylish and practical first appeared on Bega District News.