This clas­sic Padding­ton ter­race house has been lov­ingly trans­formed into an ar­chi­tec­tural mas­ter­piece

From the front, it’s a clas­si­cally beau­ti­ful Vic­to­rian ter­race but beyond the front door,d it’s an ar­chi­tect’s dream of an­gu­lar lines and open spa­ces


Three years ago, when Tom and Belinda pur­chased their clas­sic three-storey Vic­to­rian ter­race house in Syd­ney’s Padding­ton, it had lots of el­e­ments they loved but it was dark and un­invit­ing. This predica­ment gave the cou­ple some cre­ative li­cence to build a modern mar­vel with the help of ar­chi­tect Steve Kool­loos of MCK. “The brief was pretty sim­ple,” says Steve. “It was a won­der­ful, large ter­race house with all the right as­pects, but it had been ren­o­vated in an ad hoc way and Tom and Belinda wanted to open it up and turn it into a fam­ily home.”

Ren­o­vat­ing a Vic­to­rian ter­race house usu­ally means a bat­tle to bring nat­u­ral light into the cen­tre of the dwelling. “Get­ting light, ven­ti­la­tion and a sense of space into a ter­race can be hard,” says Steve. “Usu­ally you’re lim­ited to get­ting light in at ei­ther end of the prop­erty.” But this Padding­ton ter­race had one out-of-the-or­di­nary ad­van­tage: a 1000mm-wide laneway run­ning along one bound­ary from front to back, which Steve im­me­di­ately saw as an op­por­tu­nity. On the low­est level, the walls were pushed out to take the bene­fi­fit of this ex­tra flfloor space. This level houses a snug fam­ily TV room, clev­erly po­si­tioned on the south-fac­ing side, and a large open-plan kitchen, din­ing area and liv­ing zone that flflows straight out through black steel-framed dou­ble-glazed bi-fold doors into the north-fac­ing court­yard gar­den. “The deck is there to vis­ually ex­tend the liv­ing space; once the glass doors are open, the liv­ing area dou­bles in size,” says Tom. The feel­ing of space and light is boosted even fur­ther by the dou­ble-height space above the main liv­ing zone.

The side void ex­ten­sion con­tin­ues up­wards in glass, act­ing as a light­box for the whole home. “The up­per floors bor­row light and the per­cep­tion of space from the void, al­though we pushed into it for the bath in the mas­ter en­suite, and the stair­case to the top flfloor,” says Steve. On street level are two bed­rooms, a bath­room and laun­dry, while the top flfloor houses a mas­ter bed­room and en­suite, plus another large bed­room that gives onto a tra­di­tional lace-work bal­cony over the street. The views from the ter­race are framed by a large tree in a neigh­bour­ing gar­den, yet it’s only a fi­five-minute walk to Padding­ton’s shops and cafes, and in close prox­im­ity to Syd­ney’s CBD.

While Tom has very con­tem­po­rary taste, in­flflu­enced by his com­mer­cial de­sign work, his wife Belinda is a Hamp­tons girl at heart and her in­put gave a much more lay­ered, tex­tu­ral ap­proach to the fi­fi­nal re­sult. The ad­join­ing neigh­bour­ing wall, which was orig­i­nally plas­tered, is a case in point. Tom made the call to ex­pose it and had the sur­face cleaned and sealed. “It’s all about bal­anc­ing ma­te­ri­als,” he says. “There are lots of pol­ished fifin­ishes – the white plas­ter­board and the black tim­ber – so the sawn-cut wall of Ore­gon tim­ber in the liv­ing area and the ex­posed brick in the hall­way add a nice warmth.” Belinda’s favourite spa­ces are the mas­ter en­suite, with the lux­u­ri­ous free­stand­ing bath, and the liv­ing area where the fam­ily spends most of their time.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges in the build were the ex­ist­ing trees on the site. The gar­den is home to a pro­tected 20-me­tre tall eu­ca­lyp­tus tree. Engi­neers and an ar­borist were called in as part of the DA process, which re­sulted in the rear of the dwelling

be­ing en­gi­neered to pro­tect the root zone to con­serve the tree. Ar­chi­tect Steve also had to de­sign the build­ing around a neigh­bour’s over­hang­ing tree to al­low room for it to grow, cut­ting into the width of the build up­stairs. “The trees were a big part of how we ended up de­sign­ing the house,” says Tom. They are com­ple­mented by the rich rusty tones of the Corten steel pan­elling, an el­e­ment that Tom wanted from the very be­gin­ning. The raised pool in the gar­den was also Tom’s idea. “The idea for a raised swim­ming pool was born from rules and reg­u­la­tions,” he says. “If you raise the pool, you elim­i­nate the need for a pool fence which also saves on flfloor space. We ended up with a heated bath­tub but it’s per­fect for get­ting the kids con­fi­fi­dent in the wa­ter.”

The house feels modern, yet warm, with its ma­te­rial mix and lay­er­ing of tex­tures through­out. “Be­cause Tom is a de­signer him­self, the house turned out to be a great col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween his ideas and ours,” says Steve. “I love see­ing it all work to­gether,” says Tom. “We use ev­ery sin­gle level of the house.” For info on Tom and Belinda’s work at Juicy De­sign, visit juicy­de­sign. See more of ar­chi­tect Steve’s work at mckar­chi­ The builder was Lochbuild; visit and Belinda have now moved onto a new home and project.

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