More than a little luxury
A Tasmanian writer blends her love of the Tasmanian environment with her admiration for Tasmanian artisans to create a jewel.
An inspiring space
Perched on the side of a hill in the seaside town of Lewisham, 40 minutes’ drive from Hobart, is a new little house that’s getting a lot of attention. A wealth of high-end design and curated materials deliver warmth, and an outside-in philosophy brings the rugged beauty of Tasmania’s seascape into the palette. It’s no wonder it features in this year’s TV Series Grand Designs.
Owner Alice Hansen wanted to create a home that was small and beautiful - a celebration of what Tassie is.
“I wanted the house to let Tassie do the talking. I wanted simple lines with not too much going on so that nature could be drawn in. I wanted the house to be a shelter more than anything else. To cocoon me from the outside, but not detract from the external environment,” says Alice. “I also wanted an outdoor bath, and to be able to see the stars from my bed at night.”
A floor to ceiling Tasmanian Oak framed window makes up the entire front of the home. The view provides an everchanging scene of activity both human and wild. While discussing the merits of timber over aluminium for window frames with stylist Lucy Given, a giant sea eagle appeared almost on cue riding the up-draft above the coast right in front of the home. I thought, ‘Wow, you don’t see that every day,’ but maybe here you do. Everything about this house speaks to grandeur.
A Tasmanian showcase
Grand Designs became interested in the project because their viewers had requested more Tasmanian content. In fact, Alice said that she thinks showing Grand Designs the video of Hydrowood being harvested, sealed the deal to have the house feature on the show.
“Hydrowood is such an epic feel-good story - when I went out there to the lake, I was blown away.”
Speaking of things that couldn’t be done, the custom Hydrowood Huon Pine bath took some problem solving.
“I tried to find a local artisan to build the bath, but everyone said it might take a couple of years to get there with a prototype. The bath is constructed from hundreds of small pieces of Huon Pine, each on a slightly different angle, finger-jointed together.
“In the end, a robot built the bath! It was the first item made with a machine from Germany that turned up at the joiners in a bullet-proof case. I think the process was painstaking, and when I turned up, I could hear them thinking – ‘here’s the girl that wants this crazy bath!”
But Alice says when she’s soaking in the bath full of bubbles, it was worth it.
Inside the cocoon
You won’t find a television in the Alice Hanson house. Instead the focal point is a custom-made hanging fireplace forged from steel by a local blacksmith, and the everchanging landscape. To take advantage of the natural theatre outside, a custom-made Hydrowood Oak and leather couch was crafted by Simon Ancher Studio.
“The brief was for a timber-backed couch with a leather finish. The rest was all Simon [Ancher]. I wanted the makers to have a say in how they wanted each piece in my house to look. I put a lot of trust in them. Simon said go Tas Oak, so I did, and the result is spectacular.”
Each piece is designed to work together within the space, so Tasmanian Oak is featured throughout. And, the furniture had to contribute to the functionality of the home. The side tables, by Alan Livermore, are seats, side tables, and storage.
A home is more than a house
The ‘Tasmanian-ness’ of the place goes beyond the exquisite views, the wilderness and the love of home. The people make the island, and they’re as varied as the weather.
“When the crew from Grand Designs were filming, my neighbour came across to see us a couple of times. The first time she turned up with a bunny rabbit on a lead. The second time she arrived holding a pitchfork because she could see that we were working on the garden and wanted to give us a hand.
“The Crew, who are not from here, just couldn’t believe it. The friendliness, the quirkiness, and the willingness to lend a hand. But that’s just Tassie.”
Who lives here:
Alice Hansen, Tasmanian writer, who writes about all things Tasmanian, and a Huon pine tree - her only pet.
Bury Kirkland Ferri
Simon Ancher Studio