Beauty from the beast

An ugly duck­ling is re-imag­ined as a stylish fam­ily home, writes Robyn Wil­lis

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - RENOVATE - robyn.wil­lis@news.com.au Pic­tures Neil Fenelon

There was a lot to rec­om­mend this property when own­ers Frank and Gina Ka­pos first laid eyes on it. Over­look­ing the bay in the sought-af­ter sub­urb of Rodd Point, it of­fered easy ac­cess to the best the in­ner west had to of­fer and had the po­ten­tial to grow with their fam­ily which in­cluded their four chil­dren.

It was a pity, then, that as it stood the 1970s red brick house was not the most en­joy­able home to live in. When de­signer Shady Youses of Sy­de­sign was called in to look at the place, the prob­lems were ob­vi­ous.

“It needed a lot of re­me­dial work,” he says. “The in­ter­nal spa­ces were quite un­sightly and dark and they lacked ven­ti­la­tion.

“There was a lot of house to start with and the ques­tion was whether to ren­o­vate or knock it down and rebuild,” Shady says.

“We de­cided to work with the ex­ist­ing struc­ture be­cause there was too much house to re­move and it would be bet­ter value for money to work with what they had rather than start from scratch.”

The house, while solid, was a se­ries of stuffy rooms that lacked nat­u­ral light. It was not the en­ter­tainer’s home that Frank and Gina had in mind, but af­forded other op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Up­stairs, down­stairs

Al­though it pre­sented as a two-storey property from the street, its po­si­tion on a slop­ing site meant that it was a sin­gle storey at the rear. As the lower storey was pri­mar­ily a garage, the house met de­vel­op­ment re­quire­ments for a sin­gle level dwelling, giv­ing Shady more de­sign flex­i­bil­ity.

The new work en­tailed re­work­ing the ex­ist­ing floor­plan to make the sec­ond storey the cen­tre of fam­ily life, with four bed­rooms clus­tered in the cen­tre of the house and open- plan liv­ing spa­ces ei­ther side. The street frontage would be­come a large lounge zone, com­plete with a can­tilevered out­door ter­race which re­placed the old, un­used bal­cony.

A cen­tral hall­way con­nect­ing the liv­ing space at the street front to the open-plan kitchen and din­ing room at the north-fac­ing rear would en­sure cross ven­ti­la­tion and stronger ac­cess to nat­u­ral light.

At the rear, the house would be­come the en­ter­tainer’s de­light that Gina and Frank had en­vi­sioned, with easy ac­cess from the kitchen to the cov­ered al­fresco din­ing area and the pool be­yond via stacker slid­ing doors in­stalled to meet wa­ter safety re­quire­ments. Down­stairs, Shady made the most of the limited ac­cess to light, de­sign­ing a spa­cious home theatre and bar as well as a gen­er­ous of­fice space, cel­lar and stor­age rooms next to the dou­ble garage.

How­ever, the ma­jor change to the orig­i­nal floor­plan was the ad­di­tion of an­other storey which would be­come the par­ents’ re­treat.

Adults only

With its own liv­ing area, en­suite, walk-in robe and bed­room over­look­ing a wide bal­cony, the main bed­room suite lit­er­ally capped off the

de­sign. Made from light­weight ma­te­ri­als, the top floor has been heav­ily in­su­lated to boost its ther­mal mass while the deep eaves over the bal­cony pro­tect the in­te­rior from the worst of the sum­mer heat.

Rather than take it through the tra­di­tional De­vel­op­ment Ap­pli­ca­tion process, Shady de­signed the house to meet the cri­te­ria for Com­ply­ing De­vel­op­ments which al­lows for ap­proval in 10 days or less.

“Go­ing with a Com­ply­ing De­vel­op­ment helped a lot with the tim­ing,” he says. “They per­mit up to two storeys but the garage didn’t count as a storey and the house was sin­gle level from the back so we could add the mas­ter bed­room suite.”

Build­ing re­la­tion­ships

The 15-month con­struc­tion process was a straight­for­ward af­fair, says Shady, start­ing with the con­struc­tion of the Ver­sa­cein­spired pool at the back and work­ing for­ward. Dur­ing build­ing, the only mi­nor change was a de­ci­sion to partly shield the ter­race from the street by ex­tend­ing the con­crete half­way up the glass balustrade.

“The clients were con­cerned about over­look­ing from the nearby park so we changed the balustrad­ing on the bal­cony from full glass to par­tial glass,” he says.

Shady says Gina was heav­ily in­volved in choos­ing fin­ishes for the house, tak­ing her cue from high-end ho­tels and 1970s luxe.

Up­hol­stered walls, con­toured car­pet and wal­nut-stained join­ery with slick chrome han­dles cre­ate a com­plete sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence qui­etly rem­i­nis­cent of the era in which the house was built.

“There is a slight ’70s retro aes­thetic,’’ says Shady. “All the join­ery is cus­tom made, from the TV cab­i­nets and fire­place to the al­fresco cook­ing area and walk-in pantry, so it’s a co­he­sive fin­ish.”

With a fi­nal budget of $800,000 ex­clud­ing join­ery, the pool and land­scap­ing, the fin­ished de­sign has changed the house’s sta­tus from the lo­cal eye­sore to neigh­bour­hood show­stop­per.

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