A new start This Bris­bane fam­ily res­i­dence sur­vived floods to thrive

THIS GOR­GEOUS FAM­ILY HOME HAS EMERGED FROM THE BRIS­BANE FLOODS OF 2011, AND IS A TES­TA­MENT TO COM­MU­NITY, GOOD DE­SIGN AND SEC­OND CHANCES

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS - STORY & STYLING ROSANNE PEACH PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JOHN DOWNS

Painted a watery blue, the front door of this Bris­bane cot­tage tells a story of re­newal and re­mem­brance. The colour flows in­side and streams along the lower half of the hall­way, across doors and down the length of the Queens­lan­der. In 2011, flood­wa­ters took the same route, ris­ing up the walls and swamp­ing the home, the neigh­bour­hood and many sub­urbs that line the Bris­bane River. The owner of the cot­tage, El­iza, was liv­ing and work­ing in Hong Kong when news of the floods broke. “I went to bed hop­ing it would be okay,” re­calls El­iza. “I got up early to watch the cov­er­age and saw a jour­nal­ist re­port­ing from a boat out­side our house! I thought, ‘We’ve gone un­der!’ They were in a boat. In our street!” Fam­ily mem­bers sprang into ac­tion, project man­ag­ing an army of helpers. “Dad said there were so many peo­ple just com­ing into the house with of­fers of help that there al­most wasn’t enough for peo­ple to do,” says El­iza. “We were very grate­ful. It was an in­cred­i­ble re­sponse, with ev­ery­one just pitch­ing in.” It was this strong sense of com­mu­nity that drew El­iza back to the ur­ban vil­lage – and Aus­tralia – two years later, with daugh­ter Eva and son Hugo. She had thought the once-flooded two-bed­room house, which was then rented out, would never be their fam­ily home. But could it be? “We missed out on a few auc­tions and re­alised, hang on, all we re­ally want is to be in this area,” says El­iza. “I chat­ted with our ar­chi­tect, and by lift­ing the house it be­came a real op­tion.” It was no easy feat. The cot­tage was cramped, on a small lot, in a flood zone and char­ac­ter listed. “A large part of the de­sign process was spent try­ing to min­imise the im­pact of hav­ing to lift a small house so it wouldn’t ap­pear like it was float­ing high up in the sky like a mush­room,” ex­plains the home’s ar­chi­tect, Matt Kennedy of Ar­cke. “That re­la­tion­ship to the ground level was re­ally im­por­tant. El­iza wanted the kids to be able to go out and kick a ball and for the dog to run around the yard. How do you achieve that when you’ve got a house that’s float­ing in mid-air?” The an­swer was a plinth at the back that grounds a new ex­ten­sion and al­lows for one-level liv­ing that flows out to a deck and steps down to a back­yard pool. At the front, timber bat­tens run hor­i­zon­tally, to seem­ingly pull the struc­ture back to earth. The rooms at the front have been re­ordered to be­come kids’ bed­rooms, a play­room and bath­room. At the back is the fam­ily zone, with a par­ents’ re­treat perched on top un­der a float­ing roof, while the kitchen is de­lib­er­ately placed as the con­nec­tion point. “We had to be re­ally cre­ative about rein­ter­pret­ing space,” says Matt. For El­iza, the end re­sult feels any­thing but cramped. “Big win­dows, big doors that open right up, high ceil­ings and clever seat­ing and stor­age make the space both re­ally use­able and beau­ti­ful,” she says. “I love that there is no dead space, with­out us feel­ing like we are on top of each other.” While big is­sues dom­i­nated the build, it is the small de­tails, such as the fram­ing of a tree as a liv­ing art­work, that they now ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery day.

KITCHEN The kitchen (top right & op­po­site) links the old and new parts of the home. “By nar­row­ing that con­nec­tion and cre­at­ing a thin­ner, more del­i­cate bridge in the form of the gal­ley kitchen, it al­lowed the north-eastern as­pect to be in­tro­duced,” says ar­chi­tect Matt. “It’s all about bring­ing in more light.” El­iza (pic­tured op­po­site) is thrilled with the re­sult, which is also a hit with the fam­ily. “It works bet­ter than I ever imag­ined it would,” she says. “Peo­ple just come and sit on the stairs, the win­dow seat at the foot of the stairs or the stools and talk while I’m cook­ing.” The warmth of the home’s timber pal­ette is best ex­pressed in this space, where ply­wood join­ery meets oak floors, and win­dows and doors are framed in New Guinea rose­wood. ‘Kav’ pen­dant lights from Dezion Stu­dio art­fully bal­ance the sim­ple pal­ette while the kitchen, which acts as a light well, over­looks a court­yard (left).

EN­TRY The red an­tique Chi­nese bu­reau (top left), brought back from Hong Kong, makes for a colour­ful point to mark the tran­si­tion from the bed­rooms to the liv­ing quar­ters. It’s paired with a vi­brant art­work, ‘Awe­lye’, by Betty Mbit­jana.

“THE KITCHEN HAS cre­ated A REAL HUB WHERE YOU CAN BE con­nected TO EV­ERY­BODY” ~ EL­IZA

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