mystyle

Out on top

North Queensland’s MyStyle Homes stretched themselves to the limit to produce a luxurious tropical home, beautifully crafted and full of amenity for the entire family.

Author

Annie Reid

Relaxing on the terrace at sunset and unwinding in the double-sided, wet-edge pool, Grant Hartwig and Heather Ghidella are living the dream.  

But the journey for the co-owners of MyStyle Homes (QLD), who designed and built this award-winning project in Cairns, was far from easy. 

For two years, they spent almost every day onsite building their brand-new family home, working alongside their local team and challenging everything they know about construction. 

‘We really wanted to push the boundaries,’ says director Grant. ‘We strived to better our display homes and we wanted to prove to ourselves what could be done.’

 

What they did was create an extraordinary house on top of a hill, stretching 805 square metres on a sloping 1210-square metre block, with three levels, four bedrooms (each with an ensuite), billiards room, office, home theatre, and a 140-square metre workshop and garage. There’s also a dedicated cocktail and whiskey bar, wine cellar, elevator and Control4 smart home automation system to add to their lifestyle enjoyment and convenience.

But it’s the two curved glass staircases and soaring central void that really delivers on grandeur. They provide the entrance, living, dining and kitchen with sun-drenched volumes of height, space and light, and complement spectacular views over the city, Great Barrier Reef and over to Green Island. 

To optimise the aspects, multiple floor-to-ceiling bifold doors extend to an outdoor kitchen, dining and tiled terrace, which flows out to the mineral swimming pool. ‘These elements combine to create a private sanctuary, delivering the utmost luxury and sophistication,’ Grant says.

Within every inch of this home are building techniques showcasing meticulous craftmanship and skill. For starters, the site’s steep slope and 7.5-metre fall required careful retaining to construct the main floor and yard almost entirely across one level.

‘We basically had to put a retaining wall around all four sides to utilise the land. ’ 

 

The garage and wine cellar are located underground, anchoring everything else up top, while the pool is pushed as close to the boundary as possible. 

‘We had the pool formed up and ready to pour, and the surveyor rang me and said it was hanging over by 18mm,’ Grant laughs. ‘I put some form ply on the edge [which solved the problem].’

To maximise the views, Grant and Heather introduced an impressive number of cantilevered elements across the home – 12 in total – which seem to defy gravity.

The bathtub hangs out from the building and is suspended in mid-air, while the upstairs balcony has a cantilever to the front and sides that provides 180-degree views in any direction. 

‘The various cantilever construction methods allowed us to achieve a high level of custom design,’ Grant explains.

If that’s not enough, Heather joined forces with Brisbane-based Kim Duffin of Sublime Luxury Kitchen and Bathrooms, to assist in taking the kitchen and master ensuite to the next level. The design partnership of Heather and Kim resulted in MyStyle Homes (QLD) and Kim Duffin Design jointly winning HIA’s top honours – the 2020 HIA Australian Kitchen Design and the 2020 HIA Australian Bathroom Design awards.

Kim challenges traditional kitchen and bathroom design with a fresh aesthetic tailored for the tropical theme. A highlight is his custom-made timber frame for the 4.6-metre long island bench; the graceful expanse of joinery, expertly put together by local company Pacific Kitchens, is mirrored in a striking oversized LED pendant light above.

‘I wanted to make it all look floating and effortless,’ Kim says. ‘It looks really minimalistic in the void.’ 

mystyle

 The bathtub hangs out from the building and is suspended in mid-air

Another innovation, which impressed the judges, is the connection between the pantry section and kitchen. ‘We cut a hole through the wall and put a sliding door into the splashback, so you can actually slide back the glass and have a big servery to the kitchen,’ he explains.

In the master ensuite, independent zones within a larger space are defined and connected by beautifully finished floor plinths. The bathroom vanity echoes the kitchen island, and together they cohesively convey a deep sense of relaxation. 

‘Being that it’s Cairns, it’s also very tropical,’ Kim says. ‘You can stand behind the three-quarter wall to shower, and it’s designed with no glass to clean. It looks amazing.’

The house is highly liveable year-round with innovative Anticon roof insulation and Sunergy glazing, helping to mitigate the C3 wind rating and extreme cyclonic conditions.

‘A structural engineer had to provide wind pressures for every single opening in the house,’ Grant explains. ‘We have been surprised by the wind factor on the property. We don’t need airconditioners as the air flows right through.’

 

Grant was also passionate about using local trades and suppliers. He loved the tone and heat resistant properties of an Italian textured porcelain tile measuring 900mm x 900mm, and decided to use it internally, outdoors and on the walls. 

But with only two per box weighing 10kg each, his local tilers had their work cut out to install the 1300 square metres required for the job – all with exact set-outs and 3mm grout lines.  

‘If you laid them end to end, you could go from Cairns to Smithfield!’ Grant laughs.

All of the joinery in the home is a warm Queensland Walnut native to their area, complemented by a porcelain composite, Dekton, which has been extensively incorporated on all benchtops throughout as well as the ensuite feature free-standing shower wall. ‘From our experience, all wine and spillages just slide straight off it.’  

Now that Grant and Heather are enjoying living in their house, their accolades are helping to lift the profile of Cairns. 

‘We don’t build our houses to win awards, we do it for the love of it,’ Grant says. ‘But we do love recognition for the effort put into these homes – it is very satisfying.’

The public was so impressed with the end result they voted it as the 2020 HIA–CSR Australian People’s Choice Home of the Year.

‘Winning the People’s Choice Award has made us feel incredibly grateful and humble,’ Grant says. ‘We are proud of the Far North Queensland area for getting behind us and helping us achieve the award, particularly when we were against a few big cities.’  

It’s hard to imagine how they’ll top this house, but this building team from Cairns are full of surprises.

 
mystyle

Awards aplenty  

This residential project was awarded two other accolades for its kitchen and bathroom at the 2020 HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards.

Designers: Heather Ghidella, MyStyle Homes (QLD) and Kim Duffin, Kim Duffin Design

Award: 2020 HIA–CSR Australian Kitchen Design

Partner: Miele

Designers: Heather Ghidella, MyStyle Homes (QLD) and Kim Duffin, Kim Duffin Design

Award: 2020 HIA–CSR Australian Bathroom Design

Partner: Caroma

 

MyPanorama House at a glance

Builder: Grant Hartwig, MyStyle Homes (QLD) 

Designer: Heather Ghidella, MyStyle Homes (QLD)

Award: 2020 HIA–CSR Australian People’s Choice Home of the Year

Partner: CSR Building Products

Location: Cairns  

Materials:

  • Roofing: Colorbond custom orb roof sheeting 
  • External walls: masonry block, granite render finish, Boral Aspen Country Ledgestone feature wall 
  • Windows: BHS Invisi-Gard Premium security screens
  • Doors: custom-designed pivot doors, NewGuinea Rosewood timber; grey tinted glass; Seville garage door
  • Kitchen: toughened black mirror glass splashback; Dekton benchtop; Walnut veneer panels, Miele dishwasher; Abey double bowl sink; Wolf ovens and wine fridge 
  • Bathroom: Dekton benchtop; Sussex tapware  
  • Appliances: Control4 intercom system and external cameras, in-wall touch screens, in-ceiling speakers. 

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