Words Ben Kelly | Photographs Ulrich Schade
The American philosopher and poet Ralph Emerson once wrote, “Beauty without expression is boring”. At number 13 Emerson Grove, a street named after the 19th century poet, the stunning home of Bec and Damien Buonsanto is certainly not lacking in expression.
Emerson Grove is one of several nearby streets that are named after famous poets, from Shakespeare Avenue to Moore Street, Kipling Street and Hunt Avenue, which together form Poets’ Corner — a highly sought-after pocket of Tranmere.
This corner, next to the intersection of Magill Road and Glynburn Road, is subject to its own council planning rules to stop developers from subdividing block sizes and potentially upending the beauty of the character-filled area.
This week, Bec and Damien have listed for sale the bespoke custom-built five-bedroom home, created in 2015 by Piteo Architects, with interiors by Sofiaa Design.
In 2012, the couple purchased the home as a “knockdown”, rented it out for a short while, and then decided to develop the site, being heavily involved in both design and construction.
“We wanted to create a beautiful home and what we’ve ended up with has far exceeded our own expectations,” says Bec.
Bec is a marketing executive and Damien is an electrician who works in product development and has two of his own businesses.
“We built it as a family home that would suit our lifestyle and our interests. We have a good network of friends so we always knew it was going to be an entertaining home as well as a family home,” says Bec.
The couple and the architect have thought of everything, from the home’s spectacular limestone frontage to its well-thought-out layout, separate living areas, and high-tech features. The property is fully equipped with C-Bus home automation, app-controlled security, and keyless entry.
A home theatre room, office, powder room, and bedroom are situated at the front of the home and can be sectioned off from the rest of the property with a sliding glass door.
“When you’re homebound with kids, you feel very lucky to have all these facilities in your own home and enough space where no two days feel the same. I’ve definitely gotten great use out of the gym — it has been great during the lockdown. There’s no excuse not to go when the gym’s in your house,” Bec says.
The hub of the home features a stunning modern kitchen and dining space framed by a large ceiling void, which is something of a signature design feature of Piteo Architects.
The upstairs rooms form a private retreat, with a master bedroom and a balcony overlooking the pool. It was designed so that, as their children grew older, it could become another study and living space.
Near the kitchen, a stairwell leads down into an enviable cellar. Damien is a hobbyist winemaker, keeping vats in the courtyard, where plumbing allows the wine to be run down into the cellar and drained into wine barrels.
“The cellar has an extraction fan to move air through and control humidity,” says Bec. “We built it with the wine in mind, but someone could make it into a cigar room.”
The couple created the property as their “forever home”, but enjoyed the process so much that they have started to dream of their next project.
“Damien wants to do it all again because although he loves the outcome, he is more in love with the process. It seems nuts because it’s just the perfect forever home, but we’re in our 30s and we’re way too young for forever.”
During the build, Damien came up with the concept for a new automation product that has developed into a successful business.
“Damien is all about home automation, and when we were installing the pool we thought there must be some kind of pool automation product,” says Bec.
“However, when we looked into it, there really wasn’t one. So, Damien and a business partner thought they’d make one.”
The result is Splash Me — a smart pool automation controller that links to pool equipment and is managed from an app. The app perfectly balances water sanitisation and energy efficiency.
“You plug all your pool equipment, set it all up, and it just looks after itself. We never owned a pool before this house, and it’s turned out to be a really good insight into what pool owners go through.”
The pool also has a 30-centimetre deep sun shelf. “The ‘before-kids version’ of me used that shelf for sunbaking and lounging around, but post-kids it’s become quite a good little wading area,” says Bec.
The home has served the couple fabulously both before and after starting a family. “It has morphed into a good family environment, while still being a great entertaining home to have friends over.
“I think the house can really fit anyone, and whoever comes next will make it their own.”
The sale is being handled by Bronte Manuel and Julie Zanes of Toop&Toop Real Estate.