A Contemporary Home Built Alongside a 100-Year Old Brewery
Images by Anna Scott
This week we’re thrilled to visit a very special home in Narrandera in rural New South Wales. Designed and built by owners Emma Piltz & her partner Dennis, the property was constructed adjacent to a hundred year old brewery and alongside the Murrumbidgee River. A true family space, it’s home to Emma & Dennis’s children: Tully (9), Dexter (5) & Stevie (3) along with pets including a pony named Lilly Rose and a German Coolie named Billy Bob. We spoke to Emma about this ever-evolving project, her love of entertaining, creativity & yoga. A big thank you to Megan from our team for bringing this feature to life and Anna Scott for capturing Emma and her family so beautifully.
“We have lived in our home for five years, it was a derelict factory site that was overgrown and littered with weeds and rubbish. The Beer Brewery was built in 1912. We purchased the property a hundred years later with dreams to build our family home on the site. Our first plans were to build inside the 8x8-meter, 22-meter high brick structure along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. It is completely structural but with a number of awkward restrictions, heritage, bushfire, Core Koala habitat to name a few. So we decided to build a new contemporary home next to it, the dream is to one day join the two together. It’s the most beautiful space to share with our children, family and friends.”
“Summer is for swimming in the pool and river, fishing and hanging out. All year round we enjoy camp outs with our friends who bring their caravans and tell stories around the fire. We love cooking for our friends from foraged garden finds, lamb from my family farm, smoked meats made with friend’s home made preserves ferments and pickles. Winters can get cold and frosty here but the hydronic heating in the polished concrete slab makes our home cozy. All our bedrooms have views of the river making it the perfect space to snuggle on the weekends gazing into the landscape. I rise before dawn everyday for my morning meditation and yoga in our room. The evenings I retreat to this space, light some incense and head to my mat for some more practice or study. In the summer I head outside to the hammock or deck surrounded by majestic river gums, Koalas and birds.”
Summer is for swimming in the pool and river, fishing and hanging out.
“Dennis and I own a building company with a wonderful team of tradesmen, we couldn't wait to build our own home. We took our time with the design and finding materials and fixtures and fittings was fun. Our brief was fairly simple, use salvaged and local where we could, minimum upkeep resulting in materials that naturally weather over time, views of the river from a bath and bed, sharp clean lives for artworks, a creative and fun space for our family to grow in and as our kids get older. As we were in a flood prone area the engineering restrictions and having to be built off the ground made some things we wanted impossible but we are so happy with what we have built together. We used rough sawn timber boards from a local mill as the formwork for the concrete tilt panels, that gives it an amazing texture and ethereal quality. The corten steel sheet has weathered and rusted beautifully over the years, the raw timber panelling has greyed and softened with time.”
“For such a strong design and sitting alongside a powerful historic structure the house melts beautifully into the landscape and sits complimentary next to the tower. The polished concrete floor is so lovely underfoot and gives the industrial and raw finish we hoped for, it’s tough and nothing survives being dropped. I've lost a few special pieces over the years and know there will be more to come. Our kitchen and bathroom benchtops and shelving throughout is salvaged oregon from the old factory.”
For such a strong design and sitting alongside a powerful historic structure the house melts beautifully into the landscape.
An IN BED organic cotton towel in khaki stripe is draped over Emma’s bath.
“The bath in our room is a favourite place to spend an afternoon especially in the rain with the big doors open and the smell of eucalyptus. We watch Koalas out our windows and are so grateful for this magical place to bring our family up in. Our work can be stressful but when you get home it all just melts away. I have a large family and we wanted this space to be somewhere we could all share but retreat to a quiet corner when you needed.”
Outside of Emma’s work in construction she also finds time to maintain a strong yoga practice as well as a passion for art and creativity.
“Practicing yoga in all its forms guides me gently through the journey of life, juggling businesses, parenthood, and tending to three acres of new garden can zap your time and cloud your vision of where you truly want to be. Yoga brings you back to self, allowing you the space to get rid of what you don’t need and do more of what you love. My creative practice has shifted from creating with natural dyed fabrics and organic sculptures from found objects, to my garden and yoga over the last few years. Mostly making for family and friends and discovering with the kids. I taught free yoga classes for over ten years to community groups and friends and finally the space opened up for me to do my studies with some inspiring teachers at Creature Yoga in Byron Bay and short courses with other international teachers. Some days I feel like my life is just beginning and I’m so excited for what I see in the future. To live a sustainable life, close to nature, growing my own produce and sourcing from friends and small communities is important to me. I believe the balance is so important and know this isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely for me.”
Emma’s table is set with napkins & placemats in marigold gingham, navy & white.
“I have a watercolour and pen original from a talented friend Kirrilly Anderson, an Iranian wedding blanket from a trip with my mum and sisters, A painting by Martha McDonald Napaltjarri – ‘Warlukuritji’ that Dennis and I searched for since our wedding over ten years ago, cuttings from my mums Garden. I’m a bit of a bower bird and collect things on my journeys, op shops and market finds mixed with handmade ceramics and special pieces from fellow artists from joint exhibitions over the years. Everything in our home has a story.”
[For the rest of 2021 I’m looking forward to] keeping my sourdough starter alive through winter, growing and bottling more homegrown goodness to share and deepening my yoga practice. I’ve been working hard to free up space to get back creating more with my hands next year and hopefully building a little rustic studio for a dedicated making space. I’m grateful for all that this year has taught us, opening up opportunities that weren't there before. Some inconvenient factors in life forced a raincheck on our camping trip to the Red Centre with friends and our brother’s wedding. So 2022 is already looking adventurous and full of loved up fun.”