Adrian and Peta Dixon opened their lovely home in Karrinyup for Sustainable House Day. This was one of my favourite houses as it was quite similar in concept to ours. I loved how they’d styled the house, and what they did with the garden was fantastic.
The Dixon home was designed by Solar Dwellings and built by Ventura Homes. It’s a standard 255sqm 4×2 house, typical of what you’d find in Perth at the rear of a subdivided block. Being a Solar Dwellings design, it was built with passive solar design principles in mind, making the most of its northern aspect. The home was also designed for universal access with wide doorways and and halls, hobless showers minimal step downs at doorways for ease of access.
The garden is a study in combining productivity and fun for the kids, while still allowing adults their grown-up pavilion. In fact, the pavilion is the first thing I saw and went, “wow!” The photos don’t do it justice, I’m afraid. The photo below shows the entirety of the pavilion. It has an undercover area leading out to the pool (you can just make out the glass fence) and an open area where they will be growing some deciduous vines.
In fact, the back yard features a host of recycled materials, including the timber that the pavilion was made with, as well as some of the more unusual things you’ll see later in this article.
Quirky fact: The pool enclosure is also home to a frog pond, containing native pygmy perch to keep the mozzies in check. Sadly, I only found this out after I’d left so I didn’t get to see the actual frog pond.
I particularly loved this cosy little corner. Just makes you want to potter around, doesn’t it?
Echoing the exposed part of the pavilion is the pergola, which provides shade in summer and sunlight in winter, by way of a deciduous grape vine. The grape vine isn’t quite mature enough to provide complete shade, so in summer they cover the pergola with a shade cloth and remove it in autumn. The shade cloth is held in place using V Grips.
As well as the grape vine, the productive garden includes fruit trees, seasonal veggies, and free-roaming chooks. Decorative plantings lean towards waterwise natives. They also make extensive use of permaculture and composting to feed their organic crops.
One of the most cheerful aspects of this back yard is the children’s playground. Not only do they get an awesome cubby house to hang out in, they also have a bright obstacle course playground that any child (or child-at-heart) would love.
And the adults get their eye candy too. I just love these fairy lights here in the weeping mulberry. And for those that can’t afford a Moooi Raimond light fitting, you can take a leaf out of their book and create your very own! (You know, I might just add that to my DIY to-do list right now. I’ll report back in a year.)
Here are 2 other things I just love in any back yard – a firepit and a bird bath. I’ve been pinning mosaic images for a while now, biding my time until I can get crafty in the garden. This birdbath looks the ticket.
In keeping with the sustainable theme, the large water tank is used to flush the 2 toilets and for the washing machine.
While I was gazing at the watertank, I noticed the lovely jasmine creeper nearby, and it took me a while to realise that this was hiding an outdoor shower! What a lovely feature.
In fact, the outdoor shower is directly outside the bathroom, which is a clever way of arranging things.
The ensuite features a full bank of mirrored overheads, of which I’m sure the judges on The Block would approve.
One of the most delightful aspects of the ensuite is the lovely landscaping outside the shower window. We weren’t quite brave enough to go with clear glass in ours!
Inside the house is also a treat. Modern, bright, and stylish, it’s a very comfortable space. Possibly my favourite part is this sunny, cosy and perfectly styled reading corner:
I can’t get enough of that sheepskin, I suspect I’ll be seeing at least one in my own home. Another favourite feature is this beautiful wood buffet, set off by this eye-catching painting and that beautiful vase of greenery.
It was hard to get a good photo of the living area because there were so many people milling around. But I did manage to get some shots of the white and bright kitchen. Loving the little personal touches everywhere. Also, I have the exact same mixer. It does indeed look good in red.
Let’s take a minor detour and have a look at some of the curtain details. All pelmets in the house are built-in, preventing heat loss and gain. In winter, the curtains are opened in the morning to allow the winter sun to warm the dark floor tiles, and then are drawn again at night to prevent the built-up heat from dissipating into the night. In summer, the curtains are kept drawn during the day to keep out the sun, and then opened in the evening to let in the cooling sea breeze.
Also important is to have a double layer of curtaining, as this more effectively traps the air. Here’s a view of the internal track, you don’t normally get to see. Here, they’ve used a lovely textured sheer on the outside and a simple cotton canvas on the inside. This provides them with enough protection to keep the house at a temperature they’re comfortable with.
And this is where we leave it. I could have spent so much longer at this house investigating its delights, but time was short. Here’s a final look back at the garden before saying farewell.
**Many thanks to Peta and Adrian for their informative handout on the day, some of this information was used in this article**