Harcourt House goes against the grain by bringing the outside in and the inside out. Set in a riverside suburb in Brisbane’s inner-north, the young family that live in it can enjoy a sense of disconnect from the city. This is made possible through careful planning that obscures the point where the interiors and garden intersect. In this way, the home holds a direct and physical connection to nature, all within the confines of its little inner-city pocket.

Myers Ellyett take a hands-on approach to each of their projects, believing in deeply exploring every site and pushing its boundaries. Harcourt House rests upon a narrow block of land, yet, it provides the illusion of taking up a large amount of space. On the ground floor, the kitchen, living and dining flow seamlessly into a large outdoor courtyard. The garage, laundry, powder room, and guest room are raised just above this, which also doubles as a home office. Finally, three bedrooms and a private family room restored from the original cottage lie overlooking the garden below on the upper level.

The architects set out to design a home that would compliment the lives of the family that lived there. What drove most of the planning process was creating a quiet, slow-paced environment, that also happened to be in the middle of the city. The layout explores the dynamic between nature and urbanism, two seemingly disparate facets of our lives. It comes as a surprise, then, that the two can exist simultaneously, even with very little space to work with. Not only is Harcourt House enriched by its surroundings, it also makes up an indispensable part of them, and vice-versa.

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The courtyard is undeniably the hero of the house, with each other space finding its way back to it.

By way of continuing this dialogue with nature, the materials that Myers Ellyett have chosen are raw and robust. Suspended concrete slabs elevate and focalise the garden, while stone floors connect the kitchen to the courtyard. Timber walls subtly tie together these neutral shades, resulting in an understated, calming palette. As co-director William Ellyett says, “we strove not to compete with high-end materials and big-budget homes,” allowing, instead, for a humble family home to take form. “We wanted the house to prove that careful curation of rooms on a very narrow site around gardens can change how we live in our corners of the world,” he adds.

Harcourt House is all about establishing and maintaining a sense of place, which it does by carefully considering its context. As a result, it manifests as the ultimate family retreat both inside and out; that is if you can manage to separate the two.

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The master suite, located on the second level, shares views of both the courtyard below and skyline beyond.