This architecturally designed home is great example of how a mixed material palette and finishes can create an award-winning exterior.

The contemporary mixture of Tribeca bricks from the PGH Bricks Manhattan range, timber and black cladding creates a striking exterior that provides a sense of interest and still looks appropriate for its suburban setting


Using a variety of CSR products, including Tribeca bricks, Gyprock Plus™ plasterboard and Gold™ Wall Batts and Optimo™ Underfloor insulation from Bradford Insulation, the home recently won the prestigious HIA-CSR House of the Year award for the Hunter Region of NSW.

The builder on the project was Butler Building, a relatively new company led by David Butler who had established his own building company just two years previously, after almost 10 years working in the trade.

“It was a good experience and great clients,” he says. “It was a once-in-a-blue-moon job and only two years into running my business. It was fantastic.”

A point of difference

SD Architects designed the home for a couple looking to downsize from a large family home without compromising on comfort or style

Lead architect Daniel Bush from SD Architects says the design process was very enjoyable, mostly because the clients were so good to work with.

“They were very friendly, very open to our ideas, which was really cool and really refreshing,” he says. “The house is set in a fairly typical subdivision, but they wanted to differentiate themselves from the homes that tend to be built in those sorts of areas. I guess that’s why they engaged architects in the first place, to get those aesthetics as a point of difference.”

With a view to complementing the look of the neighbourhood, the clients choose a brick exterior, opting for the New York industrial-style look of the Tribeca bricks. The facade was given a contemporary edge by SD Architects through the use of vertical and angled elements, particularly in the roofline.

Downsizing without compromising

The home is located in Warners Bay, near Newcastle NSW, and Daniel says the client gave them a clear brief. “They knew functionally what they wanted in terms of number of bedrooms because they were essentially downsizing. So they were coming from quite a large home to this site, but didn’t want to compromise on design.”

Inside, the house continues its mixed palette, including feature walls of the Tribeca bricks in the living area alongside Gyprock Plus plasterboard walls.  While not a huge house, it remains generous with its room proportions with a private adults’ retreat with an open ensuite, a secret walk-in robe in the master suite and advanced storage solutions. Two guest bedrooms provide accommodation for the couple’s adult children when they stay.

Low maintenance

As downsizers, the owners were keen to choose low-maintenance materials, says Daniel Bush, making brick the obvious choice for the facade. “The texture of brick actually makes the exterior work,” he says, adding that it complemented the other brick homes in the neighbourhood, while retaining its contemporary edge.

“I think that’s what I like about brickwork; it’s very timeless. It’s low maintenance and timeless.  These clients were downsizing and trying to get away from a large home into something that was a bit more manageable for them.”

Insulating for the future

David Butler was behind the choice of Bradford Insulation’s gold batts for insulation in the walls and ceiling, saying that Bradford is always his go-to choice for insulation products. He also added in underfloor insulation using Bradford Optimo, which is designed for suspended timber floors and minimises heat loss. Gyprock Plus plasterboard was used throughout, and he says that he always recommends and uses Gyprock because he feels it is the best on the market.