A MUCH-LOVED TREE INSPIRES A BEAUTIFUL EXTENSION
Jacaranda trees may only bloom for a short time in spring, but when this family needed to extend their home, the prime consideration was preserving the magnificent specimen on the side of the site.
So when interior designer Nathalie Scipioni of NS Studio was planning the extension to the inner-west property, she positioned the living spaces to frame the tree.
“The brief was to keep the space around this tree,” she says. “You can see it from the kitchen so I created a small courtyard around it and used lots of glass so you can still see it.”
While all that glass helped frame the tree, it had an added benefit.
“I wanted to create more cross ventilation,” Nathalie says. “There is another courtyard in between the master bedroom and living room so there are three sets of glass walls that you can open up and get a good breeze through.
“I use glass to maximise the light. The high ceiling helps to make the space bigger.”
That wasn’t the only requirement when it came to the kitchen. The owner had a clear idea of how the space should flow.
“A bespoke kitchen with a casual dining table integrated into the benchtop encourages people to come together,” Nathalie says.
“The dining area is lower than the benchtops and we worked with the joiner to use a timber top the owner had found.”
The kitchen is all in one line, with the sink, stove and fridge all on the same side because the owner didn’t want the sink on the benchtop. A butler’s pantry and laundry is hidden away.
“It fits in well and the benchtop flows on to the informal dining area. The change in materials and levels distinguish the two spaces,” Nathalie says. “The kitchen is quite central so you can see the kids in the swimming pool as well as the rest of the space.”
Front to back
Instead of starting from scratch, the original cottage was preserved and the contemporary extension added to the rear.
By retaining traditional elements, such as the stained glass windows and the original stove, which was relocated to the new bathroom, the property’s history has been integrated into the newer part of the house.
“The owners wanted to keep the stove but thought it couldn’t be in an open space, so I suggested incorporating it in the ensuite, which they embraced,” Nathalie says.
The front of the original three-bedroom cottage was retained while the old veranda and laundry at the back of the house was demolished in favour of a fourth bedroom,
the open kitchen and second living area.
“The bathroom is in the same position but we completely remodelled it and made it bigger,” Nathalie says. “The original living room became the informal lounge and the old dining room became the ensuite, which was a way for us to keep the stove. We wanted to keep the feeling of the cottage, but open it to a modern extension. It was important to see the difference between the two.”
The old and new parts of the home are separated by a sliding door, with a small set of steps which creates a further division.
“Because it’s a sloping block, we kept the original part of the house at the existing level and dropped the new addition two levels so there are four steps,” Nathalie says.
“When there’s a big slope, I like to have the open space connected to the outdoor area and use steps inside the house. It can work well to separate the two areas.”
A natural high
There wasn’t a lot of natural light in the original dwelling so that was something Nathalie focused on for the renovation.
“The brief called for a light and open space that contrasted the boundaries of the original dwelling,” Nathalie says.
“The site was relatively wide and can feel a bit blocky, so with the high ceilings in a big space we created a setback to delineate the different spaces,” she says. “The master bedroom is at the same level as the original house and looking through the courtyard you see the living room is limited by the set back, which makes the dining area more enclosed.”
A casual dining area has been created in the kitchen with a timber tabletop extending from the island benchtop.
The new pool complete with glass fencing is visible from the internal living spaces.
High ceilings and lots of glass create generous living spaces that flow into each other.
Stained glass windows and traditional plasterwork maintain the character of the original cottage.
The old kitchen stove has found a new home in the ensuite.