Green couch living room

Drawn to life

This home, built with a focus on the aesthetic qualities of raw construction materials, effortlessly welcomes the outdoors in.

Author

Gabrielle Chariton

The Ash House, located in the Perth suburb of Morley, is striking in its visual simplicity. Outside and in, its uncluttered, geometric lines are finely honed in a pared-back selection of raw, natural finishes: black face brick, concrete, blockwork and exposed structural steel.

The project won the 2018 HIA Perth Custom Built Home ($475,001–$625,000) award for its owner and builder, HIA member Sam Ruocco of WA boutique building firm Limitless Building. As the builder’s own family home, it was, from the very beginning, an ‘above and beyond’ project – an opportunity to explore new design ideas and construction techniques; to experiment with the interplay between structure and aesthetics.

Black face brick and timber home
striking visual simplicity
Rooftop garden
the u-shaped ground floor wraps around a central alfresco and pool area
As a custom builder, Limitless Building works in partnership with architects and designers, and the Ash House was Sam’s first-ever collaboration with Janik Dalecki of Dalecki Design.

Sam’s original brief to the designer was, like the home itself, deceptively simple. ‘All I wanted was concrete floors, exposed bricks…a boxy-looking home with a U-shaped layout that facilitated both indoor-outdoor living and solar-passive principles. Beyond that, I just gave Janik free reign. What he drew, we built.’

Being the builder as well as the client afforded Sam plenty of creative freedom, and he and Janik collaborated closely as construction progressed. ‘We had the flexibility of building things as we saw them and, if we saw that things could be done better, [we made] changes as we went to get the best result,’ he says.

Concrete interior walls

‘the palette is quite moody

but it’s also got that

connection to nature’

The finished home is defined by an intrinsic cohesion between indoors and out; forged visually through the unexpected application of materials, and functionally through its carefully considered layout.

Bold swathes of black face brick punctuate the interior and exterior palettes, layered with blockwork, exposed cast concrete and timber. Black perforated steel appears on the external gate and on the internal stairwell. A dramatic blockwork wall extends across the front garden and across the home’s alfresco living spaces, effectively anchoring the indoor-outdoor connection.

The aim, for Sam as a builder, was to enshrine the aesthetic of the structural fabric of the home. ‘As a builder I just love those raw construction materials – when the trades build a wall or a floor, and it’s left exposed and that’s the finished product, rather than being plastered or painted or covered up with tiles or carpet,’ he says. ‘I just love that idea of once the trade was finished with it, it was pretty much done.

Breezeblock walls
cohesion between indoors and out
Black white and timber bathroom
concrete features
Despite the rawness of the finishes, the overall look is highly sophisticated and polished, which Sam says is a testament to the skills of his construction teams. ‘It just comes down to putting the thought into the connection details, where those raw finishes meet the more polished elements. So where you’ve got walls meeting concrete, for example, we used skirtings to cover up those connections. We just had to take our time with making sure it looked like it was meant to be.’

But it’s not just the finishes that drive the connection between the exterior and interior elements of this four-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Greenery and light – masses of it – are extravagantly present in every room of the house, warming and softening the austere grey, black and white colour palette. Dappled light plays through the breezeblock wall into the two-storey entry void, and the u-shaped ground floor wraps around a central alfresco and pool area. Rooms on the second storey overlook a garden which has been planted on the roof of the patio.

The layout was carefully planned to maximise the site’s northern orientation. Floor-to-ceiling glazing is strategically positioned on the northern and southern elevations of the living space to capture winter sun and summer cross-breezes. The polished concrete floors act as a heat bank throughout the colder months and work to cool the interiors during summer.
Brick wall and black steel staircase
black face brick adds texture
Master suite
the home features an austere grey, black and white colour palette

The result, Sam says, is an ‘all-rounder’ home that’s as beautiful to live in as it is to look at. As well as being the family home, Sam uses the Ash House as a display home to showcase Limitless Building’s capabilities – and it elicits an overwhelmingly positive response, he says. ‘You walk in and it’s so different from most houses. The palette is quite moody but it’s also got that connection to nature. People come through and they love what they see. It gives them the inspiration and confidence to use these materials themselves. We’ve secured a lot of work through this project.’

While there’s no particular part of the house that stands out to Sam as his favourite, he says the process of building it delivered immense professional satisfaction. ‘What we’re most proud of is what can be achieved when a good designer and a builder work well together.’ Building great homes, he believes, is about exploring the possibilities and testing the limits of materials and design; this is the Limitless Building signature.

‘Our attitude with every client is that they’re making the biggest investment of their life…so why don’t we explore something unique, something that’s going to be tailored exactly for them and is never going to be replicated again,’ Sam says. ‘That’s our biggest thing, because building the same house day in, day out would get pretty boring.’

‘It comes down to putting the thought into the connection details’

Limitless Building team

Design details

Builder: Limitless Building
Designer: Janik Dalecki
Location: Morley, WA

Materials:

  • polished concrete flooring
  • cast concrete panelling
  • black face brick
  • breeze blocks
  • steel framing
  • Weathertex cladding
  • perforated steel gates and balustrading
  • reclaimed Jarrah stair treads

Left: the Limitless Building team

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