It can often take months or even years for a new home to ‘break in’ and develop character; a ‘lived-in’ warmth that comes from occupation and use. Coming across a completely new build that is already full of history is rare, unless we’re talking about the Recycled House in Western Australia.
Located in Bedford, the home was completed in 2013 and designed by Etica Studio to be an affordable and compact but spacious dwelling that challenged the norms of home design in Perth. Building designer and owner of the home Carla Karsakis also sought to utilise as many recycled, antique or upcycled elements as possible throughout the construction and the fit out.
The result is an eclectic home that looks like it was converted from an old warehouse or shop, not least because the front door boasts old metal numbers that were rescued from salvage yards – the same place where all the doors and windows, frames and architraves were collected from.
The same holds true for the kitchen basins, sinks, and stainless steel bench top, as well as the antique pressed tin on the back of the island bench, all of which were sourced from either salvage yards or a former restaurant.
All lighting was sourced second hand or recycled, and shelving made from unused floorboards.
All lighting was sourced second hand or recycled, and shelving made from unused floorboards
The feature beams in the living room were actually a part of the Toodyay Bridge
Some of the key features of the home are the recycled brick wall, which performs structurally, thermally and aesthetically, and the ensuite wallpaper, which is made of 1950s newspapers that were found on site in the front house.
The bathroom floor tiles – antiques sourced from Spain – are another quirky addition that was a small splurge, but which delivered earnest outcomes. From the shelving made from unused floor boards, to the wall tiles and feature steel columns that used to sit in a salvage yard, all elements came together to create a finish and feel that was “comforting, inviting, low maintenance and ultimately timeless”.
The bathroom cabinet used to be a workbench from an onsite work shed that was demolished to make way for this new home
Planning was the most important part of the design process. Karsakis tells House Nerd that her first port of call after designing a schematic layout was to buy all the doors and windows, before designing the home around these elements.
But the sustainability aspect of Recycled House didn’t just stop at an impressive use of recycled and upcycled materials. It has also been designed to be water and energy efficient. On this end, the team installed a heat pump / solar hot water system, and an AWWS Grey Water Recycling Unit to feed the garden. Efficient Caroma tapwares and a Caroma Integrated Basin set in the main toilet contributed to the water-wise strategy, with the latter minimising the need to provide a secondary basin and all associated plumbing.
“We wanted an energy efficient home that was built with predominantly recycled materials,” says Karsakis. “Where high energy materials are used (i.e. concrete slab) we didn’t cover it with another material but expressed it and honed it to be used for thermal mass. Also, minimising the floorplate meant less materials to floors, roof etc.”
Wool R4 Batts is used in the ceiling alongside an external Paneco SIPs external walling system to help Recycled House achieve a thermal energy efficiency rating of 8.5 stars.
The site did not have perfect orientation, but did come with a large, 40-year-old Jacaranda tree on the west site of the lot which is today utilised as the home’s key west sun-shading device. The building has also been designed to run north-east to south-west to capture as much northern light as possible.
Windows on the east and west have been heavily minimised, apart from a small leadlight which casts creamy shadows of the morning and afternoon light.
Featuring a build price of around $1,900 per sqm, Karsakis says the home is “a delight to live in” with low power and water bills. Its bespoke, quirky design however, takes centre stage, allowing it to excuse itself from fashion and trends, so that it grows in beauty with age.
PROJECT TEAM: Etica Studio
PHOTOGRAPHY: Meghan Plowman
LOCATION: Bedford, Western Australia
COST: Built under $300,000
SIZE: 320sqm – the site was an urban infill block