January 10, 2017

2 minute read

Hunter Valley Renovation Inspiration

This blog article is designed to provide a little bit of renovation inspiration, particularly if you are in a stunning Hunter Valley setting or similar semi-rural location.


This home was completed by an Owner-Builder; meticulous in their level of detailing and finishing to achieve a high standard befitting of its beautiful rural setting in the Upper Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
Having renovated houses previously, the owners had a firm idea of what they wanted to achieve.

Through a recommendation from a friend, they engaged Mark Lawler Architects to prepare an architectural design to meet their briefing requirements, whilst respecting the physical attributes of their property.
Free from the influences of any neighbouring dwellings or Council code restrictions normally associated in a suburban environment, the “best spot” on the expansive property was selected and from there the design unfolded.

The plan form is a direct interpretation of this unfolding process, stretching out in three wings from a central entry point to encapsulate outlooks to the tranquil countryside and the mountains beyond. Courtyard spaces are created between the built forms that absorb winter sun warmth whilst also facilitating shelter from winds and the harsh afternoon summer sun.

The wings themselves clearly delineate the household’s different functions; the eastern wing containing bedrooms; the western wing containing service spaces and the parent’s private retreat; the central wing containing the “active” spaces of Kitchen/Dining/Living.


The resultant design is generous, broad, low profile, simply & naturally arranged… much like its surrounding landscape.

The selected material palette also compliments the natural setting, with the main visual feature being the external wall, rammed earth panels and stained timber boarding. These elements have been architecturally composed with extensive glazing and a low profile roof to form simple, strong shapes that encloses rooms for shelter yet also opens them up to the expansive country outlook.

Rammed earth was extensively researched by the owner seeking a construction method that offered ultimate natural thermal and aesthetic benefits. Its thickness as a single skin allows it to be both an external and internal finish. Combined with the concrete floor slab, the rammed earth walls provide great thermal mass, beneficial as a slow release winter heat sink. Thermal efficiency & comfort is enhanced by the planning and window arrangement with North facing glazing to all Living areas and locating service rooms (Garage, laundry, bathroom) on the western sides.

The owners have carefully considered all internal finishes and furnishings to maintain a reserved, composed palette but enhanced with a country character… square set raking ceilings, clean white painted walls, sleek kitchen finishes are offset by a profiled timber ceiling fan, leather lounges and a central gas fireplace set in rammed earth.


“There is a simplicity in the design and the arrangement of materials and finishes that respects its environment. It is clean, fresh, light, airy, spacious without being wasteful and detailed without being exorbitant or ostentatious.”

If you would like to discuss an upcoming renovation or building project with the experienced team at Mark Lawler Architects, please don’t hesitate to contact us.