FOURTH-GENERATION builders Nathaniel and Jonathon Swannell have carpentry in their blood.
Growing up in the Wollombi Valley and later the Belligen area, the brothers have vivid memories of the rich aroma of bluegum, ironbark and spotted gum as children.
Now all grown up, the carpenters primarily work with Australian hardwood timber, which Nathaniel describes as both "rewarding and sustainable on all levels".
"We like to recycle it on site most of the time," he says.
"We salvage and retain all of the beautiful Australian hardwood and turn it into furniture or benchtops."
The duo also work closely with Justin and Jason, of Round Two Timbers, sourcing their timber from locations such as Catherine Hill Bay, Dungog bridge and the former BHP wharf.
Nathaniel and Jonathon estimate about 70 per cent of the wood they work with is recycled, which lends their striking and skilful carpentry work an earthy, proud appearance.
"Raw would be the first word that comes to mind," Nathaniel says.
"We work with remastered and reclaimed timber. In both my and Johno's experience, we've witnessed beautiful timber go off to the tip from sites and we realised we had to stop it."
Their latest venture was a renovation of a '60s cottage in the suburbs.
The home enjoyed an 18-month extension that breathed modernity and earthiness into the ageing structure.
Set on a 2000-square-metre diamond-shaped block, the home now boasts a seamless love affair between an ultra-sleek, clean design and punches of rough, warm timber.
It's an unlikely combustion that leaves the space feeling comfortable while retaining a quiet sense of opulence.
"Timber works with everything," Jonathon says. "You can use it with polish concrete or you can design a whole room around timber and it will still have charm."
Nathaniel and Jonathon worked closely with the home owner in extending the back end of the house, completely opening up the kitchen, dining and lounge to combine outdoor living with the inside.
"What we seem to be doing a lot of at the moment is focusing on the living area of someone's house, opening it right up and connecting the living spaces with the outdoor entertaining area," Nathaniel says.
The slim hallway leads from the front door to the main living at the back, where you are immediately struck by the exposed king truss timber beams above.
The exposed beams support a high ceiling made of perforated acoustic cement sheeting.
Panes of glass lay quietly between beams in the row above the bifold double glazed glass doors, providing ample opportunity to close off the outdoor area while still enjoying maximum light inside.
"A lot of clients are going for exposed hardwood rafters with the cathedral ceiling these days," Jonathon says.
Unlike the tactile rawness of the above beams, the 140-millimetre Blackbutt floorboards underfoot are finished in an ultra-gloss.
They were hand laid by the two, and nailed in with a hammer rather than a gun for the traditional appearance that exposed bullet head nails offer.
A sturdy vertical lumber beam links the timber above and underfoot, which Nathaniel and Jonathon dipped beneath the floorboards to create cohesion and flow between the varying finishes of the timber.
The duo have worked with a range of materials over the years, including sandstone and steelwork, but say timber is their material of preference.
"We recommend it because it's ethical, it's Australian and it doesn't involve chopping down the orangutans' forest," Nathaniel says.
"It's also under good quality control, as per Australian standards, and it can last forever if you protect it. Most timber is over a century old and it will probably live for another hundred years, it will essentially never deteriorate inside."
"And at the end of the day," Jonathon adds, "when you complete a job with timber, it's nice to stand back and admire your work."