When Mark and Kate approached Brunswick-based firm MRTN Architects to design a new, energy-efficient home for their family of five in Fairfield, they brought with them a wealth of design ideas that included memories of family farm visits and the eco-friendly Alistair Knox houses that they had considered purchasing previously. The resulting home — dubbed the Good Life House — thoughtfully integrates those stylistic influences into a contemporary design that also references the Californian Bungalow and Arts and Crafts houses typical to the Fairfield suburb. Sustainability also informed many design choices, from the use of heat pump technologies to passive design elements, such as reverse brick veneer construction for thermal mass and high operable windows that take advantage of the stack effect.
Instead of an open-plan layout, Mark and Kate made it clear from the start that they wanted a home where their family of five could “live together and also live together apart.” As a result, the architects divided the home into a series of smaller spaces that allow for a range of social and solitary activities. For example, instead of a main living space, the architects sandwiched the combined kitchen and dining room at the heart of the home between an “active living room” to the west and a “quiet living room” to the east.
Though undeniably contemporary, the Good Life House respects the surrounding homes’ hip and gable roof forms with a similar roofline to fit in with its existing neighbors. But unlike its neighbors, the home eschews a front door in favor of a variety of entrance options that include entry via the covered outdoor space, the large sliding gate or the garden in the north.
To ensure year-round comfort, the architects chose materials for optimal thermal performance and low-maintenance durability. In-slab hydronic flooring, ceiling fans and operable windows help maintain a comfortable thermal environment while energy-efficient appliances and a heat pump reduce the home’s energy footprint.
Photography by Dave Kulesza via MRTN Architects