With years of experience in construction and design, a Bendigo couple decided their first collaboration – their own home – would be filled with life and light.

By Marina Williams – Photography by Loft Image

As Crystal and Trev walk through the front door of their contemporary home the design feels as functional today for their family of five as it was when they initially moved in as a couple a decade ago.
“It was our first project together as a team – my husband as builder and myself as designer. We always designed it with family in mind, but the zoned living could suit any lifestyle,” says Crystal.
For them, the home set the standard for what would become a signature of their business, Insite Design + Construction – creating considered spaces. The design was heavily driven by the landscape and site orientation. With 2.5m fall from back to front they opted not to cut the site but rather follow the contours, and nestle a split-level home into the landscape. A long east-west axis aligns perfectly north with large windows capturing northern light into the living areas. Roof overhangs and deciduous plantings have been specifically placed using solar passive principles to maximise heat gains in winter and minimise them in summer. This, together with the carefully-considered use of thermal mass, double glazing and insulative wall systems, ensures year-round thermal comfort.
“Intuitively the house hugs the southern boundary, giving relief to the northern elevation and ensuring unhindered solar access. This has the added benefit of creating a side yard in addition to the more standard backyard.”
An inviting yet functional outdoor space was important for the couple. Banks of double-glazed stacking sliding doors ensure the indoor and outdoor spaces remain connected while a Patrick Blanc-inspired green wall, located on the southern boundary fence, provides a lush outlook and lends coolth for crossflow ventilation, which is optimised by the narrow floor plate.
Central to the design is the open-plan kitchen and living area that overlooks the undulating grassed yard, lush green wall and undercover dining space, with Crystal’s eye for style responsible for the classic muted palette of timber, charcoal black and white.
“You can put accents in with the décor. I was more worried about form and space than making statements that would likely date. This has worked in our favour as despite its age the house remains current stylistically.”
Zoned living is a feature. An oversized, full-height sliding cavity door that seamlessly disappears when not in use can separate the children’s wing with three bedrooms and family bathroom. A separate study, open living area and spacious master suite are grouped in the main zone.
Storage is another highlight, with a large walk-in pantry and store room in the laundry, space in garage and built-ins in bedrooms. A long window seat in the rumpus room doubles as a handy hold-all for toys and other items.
“My style is very clean and functional – minimalist with an organic feel that has a sense of home, still,” Crystal says. “My favourite parts are the abundance of natural light and the sense of connection between spaces which enhances liveability … even when my kids were younger, still crawling around, they always felt connected to the outside, and now that they are older playing outdoors I can keep an eye on them through the expansive glazing.”
Spotted gum and Monument metal cladding feature on the facade and combine with glazed bricks and painted brickwork to enhance texture. Inside, floors are a mix of solid hardwood and polished concrete that are placed to either capture or be sheltered from solar exposure, accordingly.
“We always intended to have a central hub with a functional utility-based focus. Pantry, laundry and storage spaces and their connection and relationship to one another are integral to the flow and function of a home. I get real joy from making these zones effortlessly functional.”
In what is bittersweet for the couple, they are looking to sell the property. “We love living here, and it has been a beautiful start for our family, but we are ready to take on a new project.”
Tim Noonan from Waller Realty says the home’s energy-efficient design and luxury finish will be equally embraced by its next residents. “The mixture of materials and high standards makes it irresistible to live in. The next residents will have a home that I am sure they will enjoy for many years to come.”
As for the Douglas family, watch this space. “We’re debating whether to build or renovate, and are excited about what that next project will be.”