Sustainable Homes

10 Impressive Homes That Championed Sustainability In 2023

In case you missed it, we launched our Climate section this year. It has everything from helpful guides on installing solar and creating an all-electric home to a bunch of inspiring podcast episodes from our ‘TDF Talks Sustainability’ series (and so much more).

Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without an inspiring line-up of beautiful sustainable homes too (of which there are SO many!).

Find the 10 most popular homes that championed sustainability in 2023 below!

Lucy Feagins

The Hardings have been living in their sustainable family home since 2017. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson

At the time of the build, going all-electric was quite unique! Editorial styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson

The spacious dining table positioned under the timber-lined ceiling. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson

An All-Electric Dream Home That Feels Like A Hidden Bushland Retreat

When Oanh and Justin Harding first moved into Blackburn, they set their sights on a special, tree-lined pocket known as the ‘Bellbird’ area, which felt like a slice of bushland hidden within Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

It took a few years until they found the perfect block where they could build their sustainable family dream home, and engaged Clare Cousins Architects for the task.

Simple elements like ensuring the home had a small footprint, double glazing and quality insulation were all non-negotiables. Since 2017, the Hardings have been living in the all-electric home with their two daughters — and loving it!

Read the full story here

Valley House is a newly built property in near Fremantle, Perth. Photo – Dave Deves

The warm cabinetry was all custom made using low-voc, birch plywood. Photo – Dave Deves

The deck was made from sustainably sourced local timber, and connects all the internal spaces to the garden. Photo – Dave Deves

A Sustainable Family Home Designed On The ‘Smallest Footprint Possible’

When See Design Studio co-founders and landscape architects Joel Barker and Hannah Pannell started building their dream home, it was only right they would design it around their dream garden.

Their vision was to create a sustainable, modest home inspired by rural architecture, on the ‘smallest footprint possible’, to make way for a productive suburban garden that the couple describe as ‘West Australian Mediterranean’.

The resulting oasis known as Valley House combines a corrugated steel build and passive design principles to create a warm family home, with an impressive NatHERS rating of 9.3 out of 10!

Read the full story here

Green spaces contrast beautifully with the natural textures in the interiors. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

Heritage Charm Meets 6-Star Sustainability In This Striking Family Home

Sympathetically updating an older home to meet the environmental concerns of today is no easy feat.

But in this renovation of a heritage abode in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, EME Design have transformed a heritage home into a modern, sustainable family retreat, with plenty of contemporary flair.

Seasonal sun patterns informed the restoration and extension, along with consideration of the home’s existing period charm and lush garden spaces. All in all, the updates have turned a previously 1-star NatHERS rating into a 6-star sanctuary!

Read the full story here

Sherrin renovated her Ascot Vale, Melbourne family home to incorporate sustainable features and design principles. Editorial styling – Belle Hemming. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The house is now well connected to the garden and a large decking area. Editorial styling – Belle Hemming. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The addition was kept deliberately small — extending just two metres beyond where the closed-in laundry and bathroom used to sit. Editorial styling – Belle Hemming. Photo – Marnie Hawson

How A Melbourne Family Improved The Energy Rating Of Their Heritage Home By 160%!

Minimum energy efficiency standards of new homes in Victoria will soon be raised to 7 stars, but the state’s existing housing stock averages two stars or less — equivalent to keeping a window open all the time.

This lack of standards sees many Victorians living in what have been dubbed ‘glorified tents’ caused by a poor orientation to the sun, a lack of insulation, and low quality windows.

Engineer Sherrin Yeo and her family sought to rectify this in their own Ascot Vale family home renovation and small extension — designed by Brave New Eco and Geometrica — incorporating a host of clever sustainable design features.

By removing gas, installing solar power, and increasing thermal performance, the property’s energy rating has increased from 2.2 to 5.8 stars, for a markedly more comfortable existence in an all-round beautiful home!

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Designer Paul Davidson’s family home is a compact 120 square metre ‘cabin’ that emulates the feeling of being outdoors. Photo – Simon Wilson

The design of Paul’s family house was driven by the site, located on five acres of forest in Anawhata, Auckland. Photo – Simon Wilson

The framing is made from locally-sourced macrocarpa, with reclaimed black maire on the floor. Photo – Simon Wilson

An Architectural Off-Grid Home In Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges

Paul Davidson is always building something. After renovating an old house, the designer was craving a new project, so he set about creating his future family home from scratch on a five-acre forest block in Anawhata, Auckland.

Paul describes the relatively compact 120 square metre home as a ‘cabin’ that emulates the feeling of being outdoors.

Slowly created over five years, the home embraces its natural environment with robust timbers and a perched position overlooking the treetops. At night, the surrounding environment lights up, serving as an amazing deep green nighttime scene.

Read the full story here

The beautiful Chatswood home called Draped House by architecture firm Trias. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Amelia Stanwix 

The home features locally-sourced Australian hardwood timber windows and joinery. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Amelia Stanwix 

The courtyard features a fabric cloth that can be drawn down for additional shade. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Amelia Stanwix 

A Peaceful + Sustainable Sydney Home Designed To Do ‘More With Less’

The ethos behind this new build in Sydney’s north was to achieve more with less, which extends to both the house’s style and sustainability.

With this mantra in mind, owners Laura and Jono Metcalfe engaged architects Trias to build a ‘peaceful’ family home on a stretch of empty land subdivided from Laura’s grandparents’ house in Chatswood.

The resulting Draped House is all-electric, features a 7.7kw solar system, and has been passively designed around beautiful gum trees to capture natural sunlight, ventilation, and offer an overwhelming sense of warmth — without relying on artificial heating and cooling.

Read the full story here

The striking exterior. Linen table cloth by Carlotta + Gee. Photo – Rohan Venn

The sunken bath creates a very ceremonious feel, while the timber decking with concealed drainage points speaks to that Japanese simplicity of form and flow. Photo – Rohan Venn

The renovations made a concerted effort to use recycled materials throughout the new extension. Photo – Rohan Venn

How An Architect Turned This 1930s Bungalow Into A Sustainable Family Haven

When architect Emily Sandstrom and her partner Chris Low found this 1930s bungalow in Sydney’s inner west, it was run-down and without hot water after being untouched for decades.

But rather than knock it down and start again, the couple saw an opportunity within the walls of its ‘utilitarian’ build to create their character-filled family home.

After lovingly restoring the South Marrickville house’s original features inside, their renovations also transformed it into a sustainable haven fit for the future – with solar panels, recycled materials, and a productive vegetable garden!

Read the full story here

Sue Thornton and Brett Strothers have completed a sustainable renovation on their Preston home. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

The home’s original facade remains the same. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

The house is all electric, including induction cooking and heating. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

How This Family Transformed A 100-Year-Old Edwardian Into An Energy Efficient Home

Transforming an old Edwardian into an energy-efficient home, whilst still retaining its heritage charm is no mean feat. But thanks to the guidance and work of architect Imogen Pullar and builder Mark Van Handel, of MVH Constructions, homeowners Sue Thornton and Brett Stothers made it happen.

By applying passive house design basics, ditching the gas and installing a 5000l water tank in the garden, they’ve created a home that respects its past, whilst celebrating the new.

Read the full story here

The open living room in Blue Larnoo by Brave New Eco. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

The two-for-one style floorplan has been converted back into a spacious family home. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

The covered pergola was used for summer shade and to screen a neighbouring house. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

An Unconventional Brunswick Edwardian, Revamped With Bold Blue Interiors

When the owners bought this double-fronted Edwardian, it looked and functioned like two single-fronted homes, with ‘two kitchens, two dining rooms, two laundries, two everything’.

The Brunswick West home had been effectively divided into two by a pair of brothers and their partners, that had lived side by side at the property.

But the quirky, maze-like floorplan has now been beautifully reimagined by Brave New Eco to become a welcoming, and warm family home, with varying shades of blue across the lived-in interiors.

Read the full story here

With incredible views to the west, a challenge for Katherine Post and Chris Gyngell was how to design a passive home that captured those views, whilst blocking the harsh afternoon sun. They worked with Maxa Design to orientate the house for best passive heating and cooling. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

They wanted to design and build a forever home that trod lightly on the earth. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

The home is entirely electric, with solar panels and efficient appliances such as a heat pump hot water system and induction cooktop. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Belle Hemming

How This Family Created Their Sustainable Forever Home From Scratch

After enduring freezing winters and sweltering summers in their past rental homes, Katherine Post and Chris Gyngell were set on building a forever home that was as energy efficient as possible.

With the help of sustainably-led Sanctum BuildersHehe Design and Maxa Design, they’ve succeeded in creating a passive house that keeps cool in scorching summer days and is so warm in chilly winter that their children forget they need to put on winter clothes!

Read the full story here

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