Just wow: the pool with retractable roof. Pictures: David Peterson
ROS and John Bradbury have lived on the same street for the past 40 years.
While they have been in four different houses in that time, they have refused to budge from Barkly St, right in the heart of Bendigo.
“It’s arguably the best street in Bendigo and it’s so close to the restaurants and sporting facilities, which are 100m from our house,” Mr Bradbury said.
“Plus, after 40 years in the one street, you develop wonderful relationships and we have a real sense of belonging.”
So, when they grew frustrated with the limitations of their California bungalow a few years ago (poor floorplan and scant light), the couple contacted architect Lucas Hodgens, from e+ architecture, and builder Todd Newman Builders to bring their modern dream home to life through a knockdown rebuild, dubbed B House.
“It was a terrific house, but it faced south and we always knew that no matter what we did, it would be a compromise,” Mr Bradbury said. “We wanted something new.”
While the new home’s facade is understated, it still has design flourishes, such as breezeblocks.
And new is exactly what they got. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom house brims with luxury touches, despite its unassuming facade.
“We wanted the house to sit low on the block. We didn’t want it to be imposing,” Mr Bradbury explained. “So it’s low-set and very understated until you reach the front door.”
The solid timber door is 2.5m high, 1.5m wide and four inches thick, pivoting dramatically rather than opening on a standard hinge.
“People go, ‘Wow, look at the door’ and then they open the door and it’s like, ‘Wow, look at that house’,” Mr Bradbury said.
Once inside, what most visitors first notice is the striking solar-heated pool that is visible through huge glass windows and features a retractable roof.
“Then there is the height of the ceilings inside, so the big reveal when you walk in is that sense of space,” Mr Bradbury said.
“You’ve got the white breezeblock, the dark concrete of the floor and the stark blue of the swimming pool with windows all the way down one side. It’s a really striking entranceway.”
The striking pool and the soaring ceiling are the first things people notice.
Their previous home let in very little light and didn’t flow between zones, and the Bradburys were determined their new home would be different.
“To get as much light in as possible, we made the ceiling 4.8m at the highest point at the rear of the living room,” Mr Bradbury said. “We also used lots of floor-to-ceiling windows.”
Power-operated louvres at the top of the glass windows allow breezes to flow in on hot days and are a cheaper, environmentally friendly alternative to airconditioning.
“We wanted to be able to see the sky, and now we get blue sky and trees from every window in the house,” Mr Bradbury said.
The hallway opens up to a stunning kitchen and on to a sunken living area and an outdoor eating area next to the pool.
“It flows beautifully from the kitchen to our dining and outdoor area and we spend so much time around our kitchen benchtop,” Mr Bradbury said.
“The oak of the bench is the same as the oak on the ceiling, too, which adds warmth to the house.”
The hallway opens to a stunning kitchen.
And beyond the kitchen is the sunken living area.
One of the defining architectural features is the liberal use of breezeblocks both inside and out, which have been polished to add a luxurious look.
“It’s very Palm Springs, but it won’t date,” Mr Bradbury said. “You don’t want to just do trends — it’s important that your design will have a long life.”
The couple’s main bedroom looks on to the front courtyard, while guest sleeping quarters are accessed across an elevated walkway over the backyard and up a set of stairs.
The house is kept at the same temperature all year round, which is no small feat in Bendigo.
“We have hydronic floor heating, which is fantastic,” Mr Bradbury said. “It is heated to a constant 22C right throughout winter.”
Most importantly, the couple loves the home and has no plan to move to another house (in the same street) any time soon.
“We can’t think of one thing that we could change,” Mr Bradbury said. “We just love it every day.”
Breezeblocks reference Palm Springs style.
The decorative blocks are a defining feature.
Check it out
Visit the B House at the inaugural Open House Bendigo weekend, from October 27-28, when some of the city’s finest homes and buildings will open their doors to the public. All home tours must be pre-booked (cost: $5).