Homes of the Hunter | New twist by the pool at Merewether

While we may be heading into the cooler part of the year, now is the time to start planning and thinking about the housing projects that you’ll be enjoying when summer comes around again. 

This family home in Ridge Street, Merewether, had an underused, messy space behind the pool. Pool pumping equipment and two air-conditioning units were stored there, and the area was unkept, had poor drainage and was generally a no-go zone. The goal was to turn it into a functional and useable living space, while hiding the equipment.

The owners approached Newcastle building company Ponman Constructions to work together on a vision for the area. Director Brad Ponman visited the property and with the owners decided on the brief and assessed the area.

The wish-list was aesthetic, yet functional. 

“The owners wanted a space to be able to enjoy watching the kids play in the pool, without being exposed to the elements. They wanted to create a modern beach house feel to the yard in line with the feel of the suburb,” Brad says. 

It was to be an area for play and relaxation, but also practical for its storage capabilities of pool accessories and equipment, while improving on the landscaping and general presentation of the backyard. 

Design was completed by CKDS Architecture and construction began to bring their dreams to life. A sleek, cabana-type area was built at one end of the pool which provided space for day beds, storage, or even outdoor entertaining and dining if desired. The room is opened up to the pool area with floor-to-ceiling glass folding doors, supplied by Great Lakes Windows.   

Alucobond cladding – an aluminium composite product with a mineral-filled core – was used in the build and installed by Aristoclad, based in Warners Bay. This type of cladding is rigid, yet flexible, and is known for its weather resistance and ability to allow for creative designs. 

“A shadowline detail at the bottom of the cladding helps to keep water from the pool coming into contact with the rest of the structure,” Brad says.

“Aquabocci drains were placed along the doorway to create flush thresholds, providing easy maintenance if the area is required to be washed down.”

The oversized ceramic tiles from Mirror Ceramics were selected in Downton Ash, providing a sandy-coloured feel for the flooring. Ceramic tiles are moisture and stain resistant, hygienic as they resist bacteria and are known to last for a long time, making them ideal for an semi-outdoor area exposed to getting wet frequently. 

The focal point of the design is the stunning underwater splashback, which proved to be the highlight and the greatest challenge of the build. 

“The image was first found by the owners while internet browsing, and they fell in love with it. We were unable to source the splashback with the image locally, so the search was on to find a supplier. The original manufacturer was finally located on the Gold Coast,” Brad says.

After negotiations, Brad and his team partnered with them and local tradies to install the mesmerising work. The overall result was worth the wait, with the room-long splashback creating a striking, yet calming, feature that adds dimension to the space.

Based on the success of the new pool area, the owners requested that additional work also be completed. The undercover alfresco area was upgraded with the kitchen set up and new tiling added to the floors, using the same tiles as in the pool house. Custom-built outdoor barbecue cabinetry by Nadin West was installed, designed to better handle the heat and wet weather. The cabinets reflect the clean lines from the pool house design, creating a continuity from one alfresco area to the other.

“One challenged we faced was the access to the work area, which was via a narrow side passage with a one-metre high retaining wall to negotiate. The excavation was tricky as they were only able to use a very small excavator and motorised wheelbarrows to remove spoil from the site,” Brad says.

Despite this, the majority of the construction was completed within just eight weeks, with some of the finishing touches taking a little longer due to their unique nature. 

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