A Japanese style home is a strikingly stylish and individual presence on the Toowoomba Range.
Considerable time and effort was invested in the design phase of this home, with a five-year hiatus between buying the land to working with semi-retired Sydney architect John Simpson who consulted with the owners on their new home desires. Simpson, a former Downs Designer Homes client, mentored builder Jeff Bubeck. The two have collaborated on a number of projects, all of which have gained industry awards and recognition.
Key for this home’s owners was the right wall space and atmosphere to display their considerable collection of Asian, African and indigenous Australian paintings. A glass walled walkway from the front door gives tantalising glimpses to the rest of the house, inviting exploration. A Japanese-style gravel courtyard features.
The brief included living on a single level – a challenge to attain on a steeply sloped block. To achieve this, essentials are at street level, including an ensuited bedroom with expansive dressing room, a guest bedroom, kitchen, living, dining, butler’s pantry, laundry and garage. Three additional bedrooms, a cellar and media room are downstairs.
Indonesian granite tiles feature throughout and, as none were identical, are fitted to match like a jigsaw. The tradesmen reportedly enjoyed working with the quality finishes and unusual materials on the project and the move-in date was a month before schedule.
The owners are keen cooks and entertainers; the kitchen is big enough for both to use it simultaneously. It is fitted with an induction cooktop, commercial wok burner and made-to-measure extractor fan. The aesthetic is simple, keeping the focus on the stunning easterly views – cupboard colours match the walls, black stone countertops and drop down rollers conceal paraphernalia.
In the adjacent living area, clerestory windows capture 360 degrees of sun and five metre ceilings add to the feeling of light and spaciousness. A True Flame Landscape 1600mm gas fireplace keeps things cosy when the temperature drops. This is a favourite space for the owners.
“I love to see the mist roll in, the changing colours, and the tops of trees through the windows,” says one of them. Doors along the entire eastern side catch the breeze.
Black and white bathrooms continue the Asian theme with floating box cabinetry and clean design lines. Pattern is introduced through monochromatic mosaic or patchwork tiling.
Outside, black Spanish clay roof tiles are designed not to fade or scratch. False rafters, chain drains and touches of signature red continue the Japanese theme into the garden. Planned by Russell Campbell, the creator behind USQ’s Japanese Gardens, and David Dowel, who designed Japanese-style gates made by Toowoomba Stairs, the garden beds sinuously curve, in contrast to the house’s straight finishes. Balinese and Vietnamese sculptures and feature plants such a red flowering camellia are fed by 80,000 litre tanks ensuring an independent water supply for garden and house.
Downsizing from two homes with nine bedrooms to five here has worked remarkably well for the owners, with antique furniture, Venetian chandeliers and artworks all in place. In fact, the outdoor setting was the only new furniture purchased. Having lived in the house now for six months, the tranquillity is a bonus, they say. “All you can hear is the birds, rustling leaves and the tinkle of water.”
Words by Janet Kieseker | Images by Tony Coonan