Thanks to a case study by our sister organization, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), I was introduced to an intriguing new house in Perth, Australia, that makes superb use of American black walnut for all its millwork—including cabinetry, wall paneling, and flooring. Designed by local architect Nic Brundson, the 2,000-square-foot, two-story residence is basically a grid-like assemblage of huge pre-cast concrete panels with big arches cut out of them. Most of the structure’s other architectural elements are walnut, bringing the natural warmth and texture of the gorgeous Real American Hardwood® into the home. Let’s take a look.
The ground-floor kitchen is tucked under one of the structure’s concrete arches, which gracefully frames the handsome American black walnut custom cabinetry. Flooring on this level is polished dark concrete (as are the countertops) but changes to walnut planking on the floor above. A backsplash of cream ceramic tiles brings a new color and texture to the kitchen’s limited materials palette, creating an elegant visual composition that’s pared-down yet welcoming, while the layout ensure the space is highly functional and a pleasure to use.
Also on the ground floor, smaller arches define doorways and corridors like this one leading off the double-height stair hall, which also serves as a gallery for the homeowners’ art collection. The stairs themselves have a balustrade clad in more walnut, a massive sculptural presence that somehow makes the tight space feel more expansive and less bunkerlike, a common problem with buildings made mostly of raw concrete. Soft natural light filtering down from the arched windows on the floor above animates the otherwise serene gallery-hall.
It’s a small house and no space goes to waste. A custom built-in walnut bookcase turns the second-floor stair landing into a neat and compact library and study. The handsome floor-to-ceiling unit’s curved form echoes the shape and scale of the structure’s concrete arches, one of which on the left is filled with more walnut paneling. The walnut-plank flooring adds to the residence’s general sense of well-being, an important quality that today’s homeowners are requesting their architects, designers, and builders deliver in any residential project be it a renovation or a totally new build.
Written by Wendy Silverstein
Nic Brundson Architects
49 Phillimore Street
Fremantle WA 6160
Real American Hardwood is a registered trademark of the Real American Hardwood Coalition. RealAmericanHardwood.com