For Olive Cooke and Henry Tervenski, designing and building their own home felt entirely natural. Olive’s keen eye for design and Henry’s role as Director of Morada Build proved a fitting and essential starting point. Armed with the help of Davis Architects and a readiness to call somewhere special home, the pair embarked on their second project together last year, Currawong House in Ewingsdale.
- Sareva quartzite kitchen
- Travertine Zena bathroom floors, vanity and bath
- Cotto Manetti Arrotato Da Crudo Tobacco terracotta floors with INAX Belnews Foggy Japanese ceramics to walls and Rocca Bianca vanity
- Palladiana-style pattern in slabs of Rocca Bianca, Verde Bardini, Black Fantasy and Canova to floors, walls and bath with San Sebastian vanity
- Cotto Manetti Litos Tobacco terracotta tiles to external floor
Situated on an acre of land, the house follows Olive and Henry’s aspirations for a secluded and protected home that enjoys its proximity to nature. “The ultimate goal was for a sanctuary, which I think we’ll get once the landscaping matures,” Henry says. There is a distinct modernist influence in the design of the two-storey house; it is defined by simple, clean lines, a flat roof, intimate walled gardens and an organic interiority. But Currawong House is not masquerading as a mid-century home; it embraces its contemporary bones, nodding to the work of modernists through its form while relishing in its newness. “It’s not a religious ode to mid-century modern,” Olive muses. “It’s quite eclectic in the sense that we’ve brought a lot of things we love to the table.”
Principal Architect Ed Davis explains, “the single storey presentation of the house from the street and horizontal lines combined with the garden walls, which are almost like the arms of the building reaching out and drawing the landscape in, all make the building respectful to the site and the surrounding area.” As Olive offers, the intent was to design a simple home with modernist architectural touchpoints and bring warmth, character and an individual energy to the interiors through surprising moments of colour and vintage finds. Henry describes it as “simple but effective,” adding, “it’s not over-designed, it’s actually just really nice and homey.”
Homey it may be, but the materiality and details are certainly elevated. There is spotted gum joinery in the kitchen and bedrooms, polished concrete floors, an extensive selection of Artedomus stones and ceramic tiles throughout the home, as well as custom vanities in the bathrooms. In the kitchen, the timber cabinetry sits calmly alongside Artedomus’s Sareva quartzite; the pairing of these two materials is at once tranquil and luxurious. The main bathroom, a haven bathed in natural light, sees a lightly toned Travertine, Zena, stretch across the floors, up the walls and into the bath in pleasing uniformity.
This aesthetic is continued in the master bedroom, where spotted gum timber clads a curved wall leading to the robe while vintage bedside lamps offer a soft femininity. The tempo changes in the master ensuite, which features stone arranged in a Palladiana-style pattern, spanning every surface. The effect is captivating; shards and shapes interact and the dappled light dances across the clever combination of stone. Olive and Henry selected each of the five Artedomus stones here, opting for travertine alongside Rocca Bianca, a durable limestone; Verde Bardini granite; Black Fantasy, a quartzite; and a uniquely marked stone, Canova.
“We had a lot of fun here, but we didn’t want it to be too bright, so we went for greens and creams,” Olive says. The project’s tiler and carpenter laid the tiles with guidance from Olive and Henry. “We began by breaking off a piece of a slab then chipped away at it from there, one bit at a time.” He adds with a laugh, “Olive would check in every now and then to make sure we were on the right track with the design.” It is masterfully executed; not only does the stonework exude artisanship but no detail was deemed too small by their tiler, who matched the grout to the changing colours in the stone, ensuring the tonal qualities excelled.
A third bathroom channels a fresh aesthetic, featuring Artedomus’s ceramic INAX Belnews Foggy tiles in a creamy finish. “They’re really special tiles as they’re all made in Japan, and each tile features a very fine line detail,” Olive notes. Artedomus’s Cotto Manetti terracotta tiles, which are made in Italy, stretch out underfoot. Extending from the deep burnt orange usually associated with terracotta into rarer dark tones and even black, Cotto Manetti terracotta is the densest in the world; it is exceptionally robust and can also be used externally. Here, it enhances the haptic qualities of this space; where the ensuite and main bathroom champion meticulous details, this bathroom subtly nods to the ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, driven by texture and tactility.
Above all, this home embraces its context. It does not present as beachy or coastal house – in fact, its rendered walls defy the typical architectural vernacular of the area – yet it acknowledges its subtropical setting through connected, flowing spaces. As Ed says, “every room of the house offers the ability to either step into the garden or be visually connected to the garden.” At 12 metres wide, the open plan kitchen, living and dining room space is vast, and opportunities to engage with the pool area and garden are enhanced by stacking doors that span the length of the room.
“When you’re inside with all the doors pulled back you feel really connected to the outdoors,” Henry notes. The pool is surrounded on two sides by white rendered walls, protecting it from northerly winds and concealing the sauna room and ice bath behind. Olive’s sister Effie Cooke designed the landscaping, which works to complement the home in an effortless blending of built form and greenery. Lush grassy expanses and what Ed calls “outdoor rooms” are welcoming and relaxing, while steel garden edging brings refinement, as does a set of poured concrete steps leading to the pool. The home and garden make sense together; there is an easy synergy and the knowledge that afternoons will be spent here basking in the sun and cooling off in the pool.
Currawong House is more than a collection of design ideas and influences – it is a home and, true to Olive and Henry’s wishes, it will be their sanctuary. Defined by thoughtful details and personal touches, it responds to its context and reflects their lifestyles. As Olive says, “it already feels like home, and I think we’ll make lots of memories here.”
ARCHITECTURE DAVIS ARCHITECTS
INTERIOR DESIGN OLIVE COOKE
VIDEO CHEER SQUAD FILM CO
PHOTOS ANDY MACPHERSON
WORDS MILLIE THWAITES
STYLING OLIVE COOKE
LANDSCAPE DESIGN COOKE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
This article originally featured on The Local Project.