Chapel Hill

Set on 20 acres amongst a stand of 100-year-old oak trees.

locationChapel Hill
floor area530 m2
completion2023

Set on 20 acres amongst a stand of 100-year-old oak trees, our Chapel Hill project embodies a stately country residence that adds to the history of this Adelaide Hills property.

Our clients wanted a two-storey home that was comfortable for a family of six, but had a condensed footprint to reduce its spread across the site, minimise internal passageways, and wasn’t excessively large when the kids moved out.

Natural materials were a must and the more local the better, with a luxurious barn style to reflect the architecture they had seen on their extensive travels through North America. We delivered on the aesthetic with tall proportions, pitched roofs, minimal eaves, and local faced sandstone contrasting with the dark weatherboards.

A bit of modern flair has been added with industrial style dark-framed corner windows to take advantage of the stately surrounds. High-spec Argon-filled low-E coated double glazing means that the home is energy efficient while being open to the landscape. Concealed corner posts support the weight of the second storey, and two full height stone chimneys with custom fabricated rain guards top it off nicely.

Houses on acreage require a different approach. Unencumbered by close boundaries, and with long open sight lines, they can quickly seem lost in rolling pasture like something that has dropped out of the sky rather than been successfully integrated into its landscape.

Careful consideration was given to the hardscaping immediately around the house with distinct views framed by the home’s structure.

An inground concrete pool with a splash pad and infinity edge has a minimalist pool fence of vertical black steel rods and glass pool gates. Surrounded by BlackButt timber decking it seemingly hovers over a green sea of lawn as the landscape drops away into the distance. Clever design of the infinity edge as part of the pool boundary fence means that the view along the pool and from the dining room window is completely clear.

A formal lawn is separated from the surrounding grounds with large curved off-form concrete steps doubling as a retaining wall, whose size and grandeur challenged traditional formwork methods. Formwork for the curves was laser cut to ensure a perfect radius and finish, with an integrated planter and step lights showing the care and planning that went into what could be considered a project on its own.

The attention to detail remains in the alfresco dining area, outdoor kitchen and vegetable garden, each with their own distinct but complementary feel.

Walls and oversized columns of random laid local Basket Range stone carry exposed hardwood trusses with bolted connections, over large format Pietra Grigio limestone pavers. This solid barn aesthetic gives an honesty to the home’s form through the reading of the structure and provides security and protection from the elements across the seasons.

From its elevated position the outdoor kitchen tucked between two stone columns provides a great place to burn the sausages because you’re lost in the view.

Raised hardwood planters tucked just around the corner and easily accessible from both the indoor and outdoor kitchens give the best of gourmet living while keeping things neat and tidy, and close at hand.

A proper Hills Hoist that many would remember from their childhood is a fitting full stop on the near landscape around the house.

A wine room tucked under the stairs required extensive construction coordination with outside air ducted through the floor slab and exhaust air ducted out through the ceiling to vent on the opposite side of the house.

Argon-filled double glazing with low-E coating ensures that the ‘wine window’ is given just as much attention to energy performance as the rest of the home.

The main kitchen, living, and dining area has been designed to be open plan but visually separated through feature beams and the varied volumes at ceiling level.

The 3.0m flat ceilings of the kitchen give way to a high light section over the dining room, while the main living space uses exposed local Stringy Bark bolted Pratt Trusses. A seamless ceiling passes from inside to outside with some clever positioning of the vertical truss posts to carry the glazing.

Changes in the ceiling form gave design opportunities to tuck away air-conditioning ducting but added challenging lighting conditions in the living area. This was addressed using up-lights to wash the ceiling in light that was then reflected back down, and black track-lighting on the bottom of the trusses.

The kitchen is complementary to the open plan area rather than stealing the show.

Close inspection shows that high-quality materials, and fixtures and fittings add luxury and detail to its simpler form. The stone waterfall island bench means there is plenty of space for preparation and entertaining, and the brass ‘pot-filler’ tap is another subtle nod to the North American aesthetic.

Floor to ceiling cabinetry guides you into the hidden wet-pantry that houses all of the day-to-day things like coffee machines, toaster, and other chattel that gets in the way of what can otherwise be a more ‘Zen’ kitchen experience.

Stone walls in the living and dining areas all but negate the need for art with their rich colours and texture.

In-built storage and the large window seat in the living area give the freedom of what looks like less furniture but plenty of places to sit. Little practicalities like the wall mounted TV above the monolithic stone mantel mean you can still enjoy a roaring fire without melting your technology.

The minimalist material and colour palette continues into the more private parts of the home. The simple form of the Master Suite gives the luxury of space and honours the view through the huge corner windows.

Simple black cabinetry doesn’t get in the way of the Master Ensuite’s stone tiling. The large walk-in shower room leaves its occupants spoilt for choice with both wall, and ceiling mounted double rain-head showers. The 3.0m ceilings giving gravity time to add a bit of extra ‘special’ to the experience.

Like the rest of the home, the other bathrooms maintain a high-spec finish that complements rather than copies, giving each space a harmonious but distinct character.

Stone faced drawers match the monolithic feel of other materials throughout the home, with feature light fixtures adding something special.

Metres and metres of ‘shampoo shelf’ in the main family bathroom means that even in a large family with teenage kids, everyone would have a spot for their stuff.

Country homes need mudrooms, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be special.

This space has received the ‘Finesse treatment’ with the combined mudroom and laundry delivering on both form and function. A laundry chute from upstairs adds a bit of efficiency too.

A beautiful but hardwearing floor, custom cabinetry with individual lockers, and a central well-lit folding table mean the inevitability of laundry, doubly so when it’s mid-winter on acreage will be a nice as possible.

Environmental Sustainability

Like all newly built homes from Finesse Built our Chapel Hill project underwent a Blower-Door test to check air-permeability. This allows us to identify any excessive air-leaks that negatively contribute to heating and cooling costs. This is further reflected in the care and attention we pay during design and construction to make sure we get the results we are after.

All windows are Argon-filled double glazed with a low-E coating for high energy-efficiency. Glazing on the west side of the home has been minimised to avoid the worst of the afternoon sun during summer. High-level windows have been placed to allow good control over cross-ventilation and the ability to make the best of the cooling breezes.

The home also incorporates significant internal thermal mass through its extensive use of stone walls that act as a temperature buffer and reduce the load on air-conditioning as outside temperatures change rapidly.

A large paddock-mounted solar array connected to multiple batteries mean the home largely runs self-sufficiently and energy positive during the year.