Into the swing as a 1940s ‘ugly duckling’ opens up
A cramped old house becomes a stylish resort-style retreat, writes Chelsea Clark
Nicola Brown and her husband knew their four-bedroom Castlecrag home desperately needed updating but with both of them holding down full-time jobs, managing the project themselves was out of the question.
“The house was an ugly duckling but it had potential,” says Nicola. “It was a 1940s doublestorey house with lots of small rooms and very little flow.”
After a visit to a local home show they contacted My Architect — a service designed to connect homeowners with local architects to guide the project from start to finish.
My Architect connected Nicola with architect Mark Wilson from Danette Architecture who took care of all the planning and design for their extensive renovation including sourcing materials and managing time-consuming approvals.
“The planning process was really smooth sailing, Mark was easy to work with and clearly listened to our needs and liaised with us in the build process,” Nicola says.
Bringing the outside in
Improving the natural flow through the house and building a stronger connection between indoor and outdoor spaces was central to the Browns’ renovation.
This was done by completely demolishing and then rebuilding one side of the house to create a new open space that connects seamlessly with the backyard and pool.
This new part of the home, which includes a kitchen with sliding doors that completely open up to the back deck, is Nicola’s favourite part of the renovation.
“I love the easy flow and the effective use of space,” she says. “The house connects readily to the yard now and provides an inviting and resort-like feel.”
Light and bright
It’s not just the rear part of the home that has benefited from a redesign.
In the entry, Mark created a double height void and new staircase leading to a brand new main bedroom with ensuite.
Creating height over the entry has completely transformed the feel of the once cramped layout.
“We had a really clear vision of the finished product from the start of the build but we were pleasantly surprised by the impact that the new stair void has on the house,” says Nicola.
“It provides a clear architectural statement and, of course, it’s a fabulous source of light on the eastern side of the house.”
In the kitchen, the new butler’s pantry provides excellent storage and leaves the
kitchen free from clutter, making the space feel more open and light-filled.
Working through the My Architect platform, Nicola says, was a seamless way to manage her renovation.
My Architect director Robert Harwood created the service to take the pressure off homeowners and make the architect more accessible to homeowners.
“We’re finding many of our clients understand that quality design is really about careful planning of a home, creating an environment of light and space that delivers functional, sustainable, more economic living,” he says. “But many homeowners are unsure how to approach an architect or even what services they offer.”
Robert says he hopes by acting as a conduit for homeowners to understand and engage an architect, My Architect is not only demystifying the process but also adding value to each project.
“A big renovation is a major investment and when you’re planning to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, it makes sense that you can make sure you’re doing it right.”
An articulated facade includes louvred windows to manage heat and air flow upstairs.
A reimagined layout allows natural flow from the front of the house to the rear.
The new sun-drenched open-plan living and dining area offers easy access to the resort-style backyard.
The light-filled double-height entry.