As seen on The Block 2023, home office studios that provide extra working and living areas to space-challenged floor plans are capturing the imagination of Australians. Creating separate spaces that sleekly match an existing modern home, or complement and highlight the character of older ones, is a growing trend – one that becomes so achievable when you consider the design possibilities offered by products like Axon™ Cladding, with its vertical profile providing drama, detail and architectural interest. It’s the perfect solution for home office facades.
Nat Spadavecchia, 33, the founding Creative Director behind The Palm Co, concurs; she specified Axon™ Cladding in her recent studio renovation in Helensburgh, north of Sydney as a feature building material because she loved its look, affordability and durability, which she’d seen firsthand on so many homes. As the creative lead behind The Palm Co, a styling and photography studio delivering beautiful imagery of some of Australia's most Instagrammable homes, Nat knows beautiful architecture.
The dramatic transformation of her stylish studio renovation with soaring lines clad in Axon™ Cladding is a brilliant encapsulation of her vision, creativity and style. She shares the home with her husband Zach, 33, and toddler Leeroy.
In this article, we’ll discover:
What Nat considered when specifying her façade
Why people are creating external home offices
Specifying materials for your home office studios
With a Japandi-meets-traditional aesthetic in mind, Nat saw an opportunity to create some contrast to the home with the studio renovation, by embracing a black palette for the Colorbond roof and Axon™ Cladding on the external walls. “I like to have a really calming, neutral workspace,” she says. “The original home is a sandstone cottage from the 1920's. It already had the garage which had been converted to a dodgy granny flat, but it was termite infested. We used the bones of that to create the studio,” explains Nat. “We chose vertical Axon™ Cladding because we love the look of it. We always wanted that look – we were never going to do anything else out there. We had that look set in from the beginning,” says Nat.
Because they went back to the frame, Nat was also able to update and alter the position of the windows and doors, which are all painted in the same dramatic black with the exception of the false barn doors - as a joiner, Zach really wanted to use timber and chose American oak to add warmth and texture to the exterior. Luckily, there was very little to do with other external elements, besides adding a few step-stones to lead back to the main house. The landscaping was retained, and a few potted plants added for a touch of beauty.
Now, the exterior reflects the chic modern style she is renowned for against her charming heritage-listed cottage. Vertical exterior Axon™ Cladding draws the eye upwards and highlights its impressive height, bringing drama and detail with clean vertical lines. Painted in attention-grabbing Dulux® Nightsky, it incorporates the beauty and fine detail of painted vertical joint timber, but without time-consuming board construction or durability hassles. “We loved the look of darker cottages, something that contrasted the sandstone. White just felt a bit wishy-washy next to it, but we wanted this to be a bit more of a statement. You get that with the black,” says Nat. “Really minimal and crisp.”
“We really wanted our studio to be used primarily as a home office for me, but also as a guest bedroom. It’s a little bit of an oasis for me, too, because the house is quite small,” says Nat. With a culture of work from home that shows few signs of abating, there’s a stronger need than ever to create definition between work areas and living spaces. The beauty of adding an external home office studio is that it is also a flexible space – it can be used as extra living space, for storage or even as a teen retreat.
An external studio is also a fantastic opportunity to express yourself creatively while potentially increasing your property value. This could be an investment for your financial future. “After Covid, so many people are working from home, so if you can have that already set up, it's just an added bonus,” says Nat.
Nat renovated an existing structure on her property, creating a beautiful, versatile building that also adds value. “I got to a point where I was working from home a lot and the expenses of an external studio on top of our mortgage just didn't make sense,” she says.
The secret to success in studio design is to choose long-lasting, durable materials that don’t compromise on style. The budget and timeline were also big factors in Nat’s decision, so something that was so easy to install was hugely attractive. “At the time, it was hard to get building supplies but this was so simple and affordable,” says Nat. “My husband is a joiner, and he installed it with his brother in two and a half days.”
The beauty of specifying Axon™ Cladding is that if Nat should choose to update the colour down the line, she can simply paint it. It’s fibre cement with the charm of timber without the longevity issues of shrinking, swelling and warping to retain its looks for longer. When asked if she would specify James Hardie again, Nat doesn’t hesitate. “Yes. We just love the look of it. I feel like it's timeless.”
The dark-painted 133mm Axon™ Cladding is part of a considered material and colour palette that’s bang on trend, as we’ve seen with the recent projects as seen on The Block 2023. Its tongue-and-groove like detail complements the beauty and charm of the original sandstone cottage situated alongside it, while French doors and windows with frames in the same hue provide a subtle nod to the heritage home. Timber barn doors add yet another dash of texture, with the material palette ultimately delivering a decidedly modern vibe.
Nat loved the product so much that she even used it inside. “The laundry is clad in the same Axon™ Cladding and painted in Taubmans® Breakaway,” she says. “We had the cupboards made in a shaker style door and poly sprayed in the same colour to match.”
Ready to specify Hardie™ fibre cement products in your next project? Order a sample to help visualise your design decision. Paint samples in any colour to suit the vision you have for your dream home.