Beauty and the basement

This sophisticated home is the ultimate entertainer – and if the dramatic architecture and distinctive finishes don’t bowl you over, the next-level inclusions in the basement will.

Photos courtesy Christopher Morrison


Gabrielle Chariton
Five years in the making, this stunning family home located in Brighton, Adelaide, takes the notion of ‘dream home’ to a whole new level. Spanning three levels, it’s a study in restrained opulence, filled with covetable finishes and a notable emphasis on the finer things in life. 
From concept to completion, the process of creating this 1250-square metre contemporary showpiece was collaborative, with luxury home builders Desyn working with architects, William Burton Leopardi, and the owners from an early stage. 
‘The clients were a young family with three children,’ explains Shaun Walker, general manager of Desyn. ‘They wanted this to become their forever home, where their children could grow up. They are big entertainers, and they wanted space to entertain their kids, family and friends.’ 
Construction began in 2015, after an intensive two-year design phase. Once the site’s existing brick bungalow, which the owners had lived in for several years, was demolished, the Desyn team started with major excavations to create a new basement space. 
‘We removed 5500 tonnes of earth, and used around 130 bored piers to support the neighbouring properties,’ Shaun says. ‘Drainage and waterproofing for the entire basement was a large focus at the start of construction, minimal usage of underground pits has been obtained to reduce the reliance of pumps to keep the drains working.’ 
Double-sided fireplace
Photo courtesy: Christopher Morrison
The finishes are carefully chosen to deliver durability as well as beauty
Photo courtesy: Christopher Morrison
This process took twelve months, and Shaun describes it as the most challenging aspect of the build.

One section of the 550-square metre basement is given over to a four-car garage. The rest of it is kitted out as the ultimate fun-cave – an elaborate space that sets a whole new benchmark for in-home entertainment. There’s a sunken theatre room, a games room, pool table, gym, cellar, bar and a full-sized single lane bowling alley. 

From the crisp white ceilings to the polished concrete floor and luxurious, jewel-toned textiles, the basement rooms are imbued with warmth and brightness. Most of the walls are exposed concrete – a decision made on the fly, Shaun says, because they looked so appealing when the formwork was stripped away. 

Here, sophisticated design is interspersed with unexpected touches of whimsy. The stunning red brick feature wall in the bar and cellar area, for example, is made from bricks recycled from the original house. And the games room features a window that looks into the depths of the pool, bringing soft, filtered light into the space. ‘There were challenges associated with getting that to work,’ Shaun says. Underwater windows have particular requirements in terms of waterproofing and pressure loadings, so Desyn flew in a Queensland supplier to engineer and install it.

The bowling alley, finished to competition standard complete with gutters and pinsetter, is perhaps the standout feature of the basement. Desyn contracted bowling manufacturing specialists QubicaAMF to provide the design, materials and specialised trades for its construction. 
The bowling alley is finished to competition standard complete with gutters and pinsetter
Photo courtesy: Christopher Morrison
Luxurious, jewel-toned textiles
Photo courtesy: Christopher Morrison
Moving upwards, the kitchen, dining and living spaces occupy the ground level of the home, while a vast master suite, plus four bedrooms and a dedicated children’s study area, cover the second level. 

The rooms across these two upper levels are swathed in a selection of pared-back, yet luxurious finishes, carefully chosen to deliver durability as well as beauty. Flooring is a combination of polished concrete to the high-traffic areas, with black timber parquetry elsewhere. The kitchen features Statuario marble to the island and splashback, with a honed concrete bench around the cooktop, while the bathrooms are dressed in various combinations of tactile bluestone tiles, marble and concrete. 

Bold black joinery and accents effectively unify the aesthetic throughout the home. ‘Even though each room has a beautiful feature, there’s a continuous use of the same materials and finishes throughout the house,’ Shaun says. ‘Due to the size and space of the rooms the materials and finishes aren’t competing against one another.’ 

The elegant simplicity of the monochromatic palette highlights the home’s arresting architectural features and clever manipulation of space. A concrete-clad, double-sided fireplace, interlaced with black joinery, defines and separates the living space from the kitchen. Overhead, a series of black Vibia Wireflow Lineal pendant lamps graphically punctuate the 6.3-metre void which extends up into the second storey.  
Luxurious, jewel-toned textiles
Photo courtesy: Christopher Morrison
The stunning red brick feature wall in the bar and cellar is made from bricks recycled from the original house
Photo courtesy: Christopher Morrison
The living space and dining room open onto an alfresco kitchen, pool and spa, transitioning via 3.2-metre high glazed sliding doors that disappear into wall pockets. The dominant internal finishes – concrete, timber and black joinery – are carried through to strengthen the link between indoors and out. Here, the focus is on facilitating entertaining: ‘The complete idea behind matching the interior colours and styling inside and out makes the home flexible for entertaining,’ Shaun says. ‘The seamless matching of these areas allows the inside to become one without the outside space.’

The visual impact of this home is most certainly a product of the Desyn team’s technical skill and uncompromising approach to craftsmanship. In every room, the interplay between finishes is handled with dexterity and high-level attention to detail. 

‘One of the challenges in this project was ensuring all trades were completely aware of the need for precision and perfection, as many components of each trade relied heavily on the work of the trade prior,’ Shaun explains. 

The three-year build was completed in 2018, and, as well as exceeding the client’s expectations, the home has already received significant industry recognition. It won three HIA awards in 2018, including the HIA–CSR South Australian Home of the Year, with the judges describing it as ‘an architectural masterpiece in a league of its own’.

And while thrilled to win such an accolade, Shaun says that for the Desyn team, this ‘dream home’ represented a ‘dream job’. ‘This is definitely the biggest build we’ve seen in our time,’ he says. ‘You don’t come across these sorts of homes too often, so it was hugely rewarding to bring it to life.’

design details

Builder: Desyn
Architect: William Burton Leopardi
Location: Adelaide

  •  Flooring: direct stuck engineered timber boards in black finish; polished concrete 10mm concrete veneer, Concrete House; Tretford carpet in Lagoon Blue, Terrace Floors (basement)
  • Flooring (wet areas): 200x600mm natural stone carrara marble; natural stone bluestone tile 
  • Kitchen benchtop/splashback: Statuario natural stone honed; 20mm concrete veneer panels
  • Kitchen joinery: timber veneer in Even Raveena, Eveneer; walnut timber; solid aged brass
  • Paint: Dulux

New brand, same quality product

Desyn Homes was established in 2005 as a design and development company, and branched into new home building in 2008. Over next ten years, the company built a solid reputation across Adelaide as a quality provider of luxury custom homes, and in 2018, opened a new entity – Desyn Pools. 

Desyn Homes and Desyn Pools have now been streamlined within the company’s reimagined brand, Desyn. The new-look logo and branding was officially launched at a special industry function on 8 August at the Caesarstone showroom in Adelaide. 

‘We believe the Desyn name has already established a quality reputation for our products and our service,’ says general manager Shaun Walker. ‘And that’s reflected in the work that we’ve got coming in.’ 

The company’s new tagline sums it up: ‘Better by Desyn’.  


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