How a desire to connect to the garden changed everything for one family
While some renovation projects resemble a cube-shaped extension attached to an existing house, this project shines for its out-of-the-box approach.
Situated in Queens Park in Sydney’s east, the home sits among a row of similar homes.
Rather than knock down the single-storey home, which was rundown at the back, the owners chose to retain the front two rooms, preserving the original facade, and start the new work behind the existing building ridge.
They wanted the new interior to have a strong connection with the back garden.
The appearance of the extension from the front was key so they opted for a design that gradually folded off the front roof.
“Quite a common approach is to stick a box on the top, which we tried to avoid because it doesn’t integrate very well with the existing house,” architect Madeleine Blanchfield says.
To link the exterior of old and new, hundreds of painted timber batons were meticulously screwed into place and became a decorative feature, sitting above a new Colorbond roof.
Those batons form screens over some of the windows of the house.
With the timber batons an eye-catching feature, it was decided to echo the effect internally around the new staircase.
“It was an unusual space that we created with all those folds,” Madeleine says.
“We lined it on the inside and as you walk in you can understand what’s happening between the old and the new.”
The home’s upper level contains four bedrooms and the master bedroom includes a luxurious ensuite and walk-in robe.
Downstairs, the detailing in the original rooms was retained. They have become an entry hall and study/guest room. Further on are the laundry and bathroom, as well as a rumpus room with big sliding timber doors.
On the level
The original house sat about a metre above ground level out the back. Madeleine dropped the floor level of the new living and dining space which allowed for tall ceilings as well as level access to the backyard.
The new extension has a simple palette with shades of grey and a generous use of marble and timber. Well placed windows ensure the space is filled with light.
“The idea was to keep everything pared back and bring in warmth through the furniture,” Madeleine says.
The view across the backyard includes a wall of random ashlar stone sitting just behind the new swimming pool. The wall conceals the triple garage, which is positioned underneath a new upstairs studio.
Overall, Madeleine and the owners are thrilled with the finished product, with the house inside seeming much bigger than it looks from the street.
“It’s always a reasonably stressful thing to do, building, but I think the owners would say it was worth it,” Madeleine says.
This project was recently short-listed for an Institute of Architects award.
September 30, 2017
The new open-plan living area has direct access to the garden and swimming pool.
The front facade was refreshed but otherwise unchanged.