Beating the heat - and rising energy prices - in a luxury property | Kanebridge News
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Beating the heat – and rising energy prices – in a luxury property

Temperatures can exceed 40C in Sydney’s west but everyone keeps their cool in this resort-style home

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Jan 18, 2023 12:06pmGrey Clock 4 min

 The owners of this property in Sydney’s outer west never set out to be environmentalists. And, at first glance, the sprawling luxury home they built at Twin Creeks at Luddenham does not appear to be eco friendly. But appearances can be deceiving.

When they approached building designer Luke Van Jour at Distinct Innovations, they wanted a resort-style home befitting the spacious greenfield location at the golf course estate. A large, wraparound pool would be at the centre of the design for the single level home, along with three entertaining areas, an outdoor cabana and home theatre. This would be in addition to four bedrooms, a guest room and a study.

With about 4,000sqm to work with, there was plenty of room to move so the owner decided to include a spacious home gym. He also wanted a half size tennis and basketball court to round out the leisure options – and to fulfil a childhood dream.

“The client had a tough upbringing,” Van Jour says. “When his parents were not around he used to go to the local basketball court to shoot hoops, so including a basketball court was about bringing back some of those positive childhood memories.”

With a healthy budget to work with, Van Jour was tasked with creating a resort-style experience, with a wet bar and water wall next to the outdoor kitchen, all in a single level design so that every day would feel like a holiday for the family.

“The client had spent a lot of time travelling the world,” he says. “When he came home, he wanted that same feeling that he experienced when he was staying in hotels and resorts overseas. Everything had to be wrapped around this pool.”

In keeping with the luxury theme, Van Jour specified several home automation options.

“It’s a key part of this house,” he says. “You can turn on the aircon, warm up the coffee machine, open the garage doors. It also has security and biometric systems.”

With all the hi tech, it might be easy to miss the lengths Van Jour has gone to in order to design a house which is a little easier on the environment – and the owners’ bank balance – than you might expect of a building this size.

“I designed the house to block as much sun in summer as I could and bring as much winter sun into the

house as possible,” he said. “The whole house was double glazed and full passive design. It is brick veneer on concrete slab-on-ground with stone floors to allow for optimum thermal mass.”

There’s also a 8kw system of photovoltaic cells to cut down on energy bills, and rainwater tanks that hold up to 100,000L for washing clothes, topping up the pool and watering the garden. 

“Without the solar panels, if this house had to run on standard electricity, it would easily be $7000 to $8000 a quarter but now it is about $2000 to $3000 a quarter,” Van Jour said.

However, it took a little while for the owners to get into the swing.

“When the clients first moved in, the bill for the first quarter was close to $10,000,” he said. “The owner asked me what was going on. 

“In Luddenham, it gets down to -2C in winter and up to 48C or 49C in summer but when I went over, he greeted me in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter.”

As it transpired, all the thermostats had been set to 28C and both the reverse cycle air conditioning and the underfloor heating had been turned on. There were also four large screen TVs running 24/7 and the pool pump had malfunctioned so that it was running day and night when it should only operate four hours a day. After turning off the aircon completely (it was installed mainly for cooling the house in summer), resetting the temperature of the underfloor heating, fixing the pool pump and only using the TVs when there was someone in the room, the bill dropped almost 80 percent the next quarter.

The house took 18 months to build, which is relatively speedy for its size. Now, the family enjoys a resort lifestyle while reducing their bills – and their impact on the environment. When it runs well.

“We did all the right things but if the house is not operated properly, it’s a waste of time.”


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There’s no shortage of design inspiration online but nothing beats the joy of spending an afternoon immersing yourself in a good interior design book. Edited, carefully curated and, above all, designed, these titles take you behind the scenes of some of the world’s most beautiful interiors in a considered way. Think of it like the difference between listening to a few tunes on Spotify versus releasing a thoughtfully crafted studio album. We’ve assembled our top six of interior design books on the market right now for your viewing and reading pleasure.

1. Interiors beyond the primary palette 

Arent & Pyke: Interiors Beyond the Primary Palette : Arent & Pyke, Arent, Juliette, Pyke, Sarah-Jane: Books

Step inside the world of award-winning interior design duo Juliette Arent and Sarah-Jane Pyke in this, their first compendium of their work. A ‘best of’ over more than 15 years working together, it’s a masterclass in working with colour and pattern as seen through 18 projects from around the country. With a focus on the idea of home as sanctuary, this hefty tome offers insight into the mind of the designer with points on where to find  inspiration, meeting client briefs and the importance of relationships. Thames & Hudson, $120

2 House of Joy

House of Joy - Playful Homes and Cheerful Living - gestalten EU Shop

If there was ever a book title for our times, then this is it. With a subtitle of Playful Homes and Cheerful Living, this book champions fun in interior design, with bold and bright homes from around the world to delight and inspire. While there’s a good dose of the unexpected, like a disco ball in the garden, there’s no mayhem in these spaces. Instead, they’re beautifully executed to tempt even the most colour shy. Gestalten, $105  

3. Abigail Ahern Masterclass

Abigail Ahern's Masterclass :HarperCollins Australia

Some design books are beautiful to look at, and that’s it. This is not one of those books. A master of colour and pattern, UK designer Ahern offers a practical foundational guide to beautiful interiors, mixing form with function in her latest book, Masterclass. Find the inspiration you need to create a gorgeous home. HarperCollins, $65  

4. Interiors Now!

Looking for a visual crash course in international design trends with longevity? This is the book for you. Featuring homes across the globe, from New York to Auckland via Avignon, the biggest dilemma for readers is settling on a style. Many of the projects are owned by designers and creatives, lending a dynamic edge to this tome, now in its 40th year. Taschen, $50

5. Home by the Sea 

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For many Australians, the ocean holds an almost hypnotic appeal. Home by the Sea by Natalie Walton lets you imagine, for a little while at least, what it’s like living the dream in a beach shack in Byron Bay. The book tours 18 homes in and around the region and the hinterland owned by artists, designers and makers. With photography by Amelia Fullarton, it champions the good life. Hardie Grant, $60            

6. The Layered Interior

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Released last year, this is the third volume from award-winning interior designer Greg Natale. Different in format from his earlier books, the eight projects featured are Australian but with a slight Euro-centric focus. The writing is conversational, almost intimate, inviting the reader into the most luxurious spaces beautifully captured by photographer Anson Smart. This coffee table tome is perfect for dreamers and doers alike. Rizzoli, $110 


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