Danielle Palan House
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Danielle Palan House

Danielle Palan
Alexandra Gordon
Felix Forest

After finding a dream location, an architect set to work, turning her Sydney house into the perfect family home.

Dreams can become reality: Joel and Danielle Palan are living proof of that. “One day, Joel announced he’d found the perfect house for us, with only one problem – it wasn’t on the market,” says Danielle, a self-employed architect. After knocking at the door, Danielle was told by the owner of 40 years that the single-storey Californian bungalow wasn’t for sale. “Only days later, Joel called me at work and asked me to look something up online,” says Danielle. “There was the very house we had fallen in love with, now up for auction!”

It was the setting rather than the house that the couple fell for. “It was opposite a lovely park, had city views from the rear, and was in a quiet street in the middle of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs,” says Danielle. The house didn’t make the most of these assets, though. They moved in but life got in the way of the planned renovation, and it wasn’t until 10 years later that Danielle and Joel finally built the ultimate house for their family, which now includes children Oscar and Neva.

While the location was appealing, the site also presented challenges. “To reduce the impact of the afternoon sun, we orientated the house further north and incorporated large overhangs,” says Danielle. “The old house had a single garage at the rear of the site, accessed via an extremely narrow driveway.” The building was raised to allow near-level access from the street to an internal garage at basement level, while the ground and first floors now enjoy city and park views.

The triangular site meant that Danielle had to be clever when planning the required spaces. The brief included four bedrooms and bathrooms, a separate guest suite and study, and generous shared areas; including two living areas, a kitchen, and dining and rumpus rooms. “Our home is large enough that we can all find our own space – a welcome change from the old house, which had one lounge room and one bathroom,” says Danielle. The front of the house is framed by greenery and large cavity doors slide open at the back to reveal a covered terrace with a lawn, pool and city views beyond. “We yearn for the warmer months,” says Danielle. “With the barbecue, extendable table and luxurious outdoor furniture, the terrace is better than some resorts!”

Joel acted as the client for Danielle’s design process. “I had my family in mind while designing every space of course, however, I would present my ideas to Joel, who wasn’t shy in giving his opinion,” says Danielle, who took a successful punt on the Kai Kristiansen wall unit in the back living room that Joel wasn’t sure about. The curved lines throughout can also be attributed to Joel. “It was my husband who asked me to soften the lines of the interior and exterior of the house and once I started, it was hard to stop,” says Danielle. Of note are the sinuous lines of the vertically clad pod that encloses the kitchen, pantry and laundry.

Being an owner/architect meant Danielle could afford to invest time in the design. “I can be meticulous,” says Danielle. “I measured everything before finalising the joinery dimensions, from the length of Joel’s pants to the size of all my appliances, and even the height of a toilet roll.” As a result, the rooms boast inconspicuous yet beautifully detailed joinery, painted to match the walls, hiding the necessary workings such as air-conditioning and power points.

The end result of the 17-month process is the perfect family-friendly home. The family moved in just before construction was complete. “I’ve never lived in a house even remotely as luxurious as this, and my first week with over a dozen builders in the house lessened the shock that this home we created is ours,” says Danielle. It’s not often that people have nothing they would do differently or no plans for additions down the track. This is one of those homes, perhaps thanks to a perfectly matched client and architect.

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