Into the swing as a 1940s ‘ugly duck­ling’ opens up

A cramped old house be­comes a stylish re­sort-style re­treat, writes Chelsea Clark

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - Pic­tures Thomas Dal­hoff

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.

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