We weren’t want­ing [to build] a mon­u­ment.

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - HEALTH - WORDS MARGIE FRASER PHOTOGRAPHY SCOTT BUR­ROWS

Kylie Forbes of Blue­print ar­chi­tects re­calls the “in­cred­i­ble brief” she was given for ren­o­vat­ing an 1869 colo­nial beauty in Bris­bane’s in­ner-west Padding­ton. “The own­ers rang and said that they weren’t ex­actly sure how it hap­pened, but they’d just bought on a whim an old home they’d been ad­mir­ing for years.”

The house had been owned by one fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions, and the pre­vi­ous owner had re­cently turned 100 years old in it, hav­ing raised her eight chil­dren there. Much of it was in­tact, in­clud­ing the un­painted, stained VJ walls. Other fea­tures, and the gen­eral lay­out, were also un­spoiled by in­cur­sions, and the new own­ers were keen to re­tain them. But the best part of the com­mis­sion for Forbes was the clients’ un­der­stand­ing that less was more, and their in­sis­tence on a sin­gle living space and one bath­room. “It’s so un­usual for clients th­ese days to ask us to make a place smaller rather than larger,” says Forbes.

The own­ers, who had spent sev­eral years living in small quar­ters in Shang­hai, China, wanted to pro­mote fam­ily life on a sin­gle level. “We weren’t want­ing a mon­u­ment,” they said. “We wanted to down­size and still have plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to run into each other as a fam­ily.”

The four-room cottage was re­tained at the front, with de­light­ful ve­ran­dahs graced by lat­ticed arches. At the rear, catch­ing breath­tak­ing city views, a wall was re­moved to cre­ate a fam­ily space com­pris­ing a kitchen, living area and out­door lounge. Here the fam­ily’s sig­nif­i­cant col­lec­tion of art and arte­facts is dis­played on cus­tom-built shelves and niches. Forbes has en­closed the out­door room with solid balustrades, and a sys­tem of slid­ing arched win­dows that re­peat the arches of the ve­ran­dah.

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