Black beauty

Black beauty

Breaking the mould with a stunning new show home, Casa Construction raises the bar for inner-city suburban living.

After winning the 2016 Registered Master Builders National Gold Award for their own home – dubbed the ‘Dark Horse’ – the husband and wife team behind Casa Construction decided to open it up to the public in order to demonstrate the possibilities when designing and building with them.
Once Jeff and Kelly Root were ready to reclaim their home as a private oasis again, they sought out the ideal location to build a new concept home. The new public-only show home – just a few doors down from their own, in St Albans – is a shining testament to their eagle eye for detail and commitment to quality craftsmanship.
Bringing this dream to fruition, they formed an alliance with CoLab Architecture, whose original design for the site perfectly aligned with their objective: to build a stunning architecturally designed family home that delivers practical, yet luxurious inner-city living. And with little changes made to the original plans, the final outcome exceeded all expectations.
The simple subtracted form takes ‘bite-outs’ from critical locations of the building mass to produce a more linear floor plan that allows sunlight to flood the internal spaces, while simultaneously creating a greater visual connection with outdoor living areas.
Employing the ‘apple peel effect’, the use of cladding operates using a similar principle to that of an apple, where the contrast between the white flesh of the ‘bite-out’ and the surrounding skin can create interest to a lesser or greater degree depending on the materials used – as Creative Designer and Co-Founder of CoLab Architecture, Tobin Smith, explains.
This creates a subtle distinction between the shiplap weatherboards and dark-stained cedar board and batten; the latter material generates a striking silhouette against the whitewashed winter sky.

The ‘honest’ materials used, from the blackened weatherboard exterior to the polished concrete floors throughout, ‘stand on their own’. Clever design details like the large sliding doors that sit over the exterior wall cladding to reveal a clear negative space when slid open, are the small details that give this home the upper hand, while other areas such as the hallway have been carefully crafted to deliver high drama.
From the moment one sets foot through the front door, the eye is drawn down the entire length of the property, thanks to these clever architectural ‘bites’. At the end of the hallway, the home’s open-plan kitchen and dining area takes full advantage of the internal volume, which spills out onto a sheltered and sun-drenched courtyard through floor-to-ceiling sliding doors.
Favoured by architects and builders alike, Fairview Architectural aluminium frames were used in conjunction with Glass Relate double glazing and Stella hardware to complement this architecturally designed home. Achieving a seamless finish where doors and windows perfectly line up with the exterior cladding and interior flooring is testament to great design and the outstanding workmanship of all involved.
The home’s tour de force is without a doubt the sophisticated monochrome open-plan kitchen/dining and scullery. Complete with high-spec Smeg appliances in glossy black, Ryan’s Kitchens and Joinery complemented these with bespoke cabinetry.
The island’s sheer density anchors the kitchen into the polished concrete floor, making for a generous preparation area. Crafted from solid Caesarstone, the kitchen’s focal piece took the strength of six men to carry and carefully position at the centre of this entertainer’s dream kitchen; but it was well worth the effort, says Jeff.
Oceans of storage space can be found in wall-hung drawers and cupboards, and all available space under the generous island has been utilised as additional storage. Attention to the finer design details can be seen in the joinery profile rail, which beautifully replicates the island’s negative detailing in the waterfall ends. 
Featuring state-of-the-art fixtures, fittings and appliances throughout, careful attention has also been paid to the high-tech lighting systems. Showcasing the capabilities of a brand new lighting control system, Dennis Grant from Hugo Lighting explains the benefits. ‘Rather than using additional and expensive cabling to send control signals to the various light fittings, heated towel rails and fans throughout the home, this new system utilises the existing mains wiring, making installation more economical.’

As a world first, Dennis says this new approach to automated home systems required careful planning in the design phase, but ultimately their commitment to excellence paid off. Easily programmed, the system can activate different light groupings, or single lights independently, with either a simple on/off switch or with dimming capabilities. Easily operated from a Smart device, this system is extremely user-friendly and energy efficient.
While polished concrete flooring gives a slick contemporary look, in-slab heating installed by Energy Efficient Products keeps toes toasty all year round. Taking the chill out of concrete floors and providing a comfortable ambient temperature, in-slab heating is a cost effective solution, not only for concrete floors, but under carpets and tiles. 
Capital costs are surprisingly competitive and running costs are very economical when using the cheaper night rate, and even more so if homeowners produce their own energy through solar powered panels.
For the home’s ‘fashion-forward’ bathrooms, Oakleys Plumbing Supplies was on hand to offer a selection of high quality, on-trend products that deliver luxury, high drama and functionality.
Glossy black accents are a standout feature against the marble tiling and polished concrete floors in the master bedroom’s compact, yet cleverly designed en suite. From the black wenge vanities and matching black mirror, to the high-end hardware - this monochrome look is of-the-moment, yet utterly timeless. 
Creating a quietly understated entrance to the property, Innovative Landscapes used poured concrete pavers – leading to the home’s entrance and replicated in the rear garden – to satisfy both form and function. Interspersed with stones to soften the edges, and planted with Ligularia reniformis, flax and Yuccas, they lead the way to the raised planters in the far corner of the garden. 
Unlike pine, the macrocarpa sleepers used to build the raised beds are both hard and untreated, which avoids any nasty chemicals leaching into the soil and affecting this flourishing veggie patch.
Thrilled with the end result, Jeff says Casa’s new concept home demonstrates his conviction that designing and building a high quality, bespoke inner-city family home on a mid-range budget is an achievable dream.

Words: Majka Kaiser     Photography: Mick Stephenson

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