Inside Out (Australia)
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“In a new house, building codes are really strict on staircase safety,” says Wayd. “But many older homes – especially terraces like this one – still have steep stairs that are, at best, not ideal for little kids or the elderly and, at worst, downright dangerous. Restructuring a steep staircase – this means decreasing the riser height and increasing the depth of the tread – can get expensive as it often means starting from scratch. It can also eat into the living space on one or both of the floors connected by the staircase. But it can also give you a chance to rethink the layout of a room. That could be a bonus in this house, as the second living area is currently something of a glorified hallway. Relocating the stairs could make the space more functional, so it would be a win on two fronts.”
light the way
“Victorian terraces have such lovely high ceilings,” says Lisa. “Caroline and Adam’s home has some beautiful decorative details, such as the cornicing and ornate ceiling roses in every room. This is most evident in the front room, where the ornamentation is generally at its best as this would have been the room that hosted your guests. To make the most of these features, the lighting has to go up as well as down. If you have lampshades that force the light downwards, you’re essentially cutting out half the space. Originally, this house would have been lit by gas chandeliers or uplight pendants, and wall sconces. This type of lighting (converted for electricity!) will open up the whole room and give night time a dramatic edge.”
“There’s a mature white cedar in the first part of the back garden,” says Andrew. “It’s lovely and because the canopy isn’t dense, it gives a lovely dappled light while still providing shade from the western sun. But it may dictate what you can do in terms of a rear extension as council will require the design to retain the tree. Under the canopy is known as the ‘zone of influence’ which basically means this is the area where the tree’s most significant roots will be. You are typically allowed to chop out a proportion of the roots to place new footings and these will need to elevate the new additions about 400mm above the surrounding roots. It can be quite challenging and you typically will need to get an engineer and arborist involved. How all this will affect the internal spaces is that you’ll need a step up or two, rather than having the ideal one-level connection to the garden.”
“A tree may dictate what you do in terms of a rear extension” ANDREW BENN, PANEL ARCHITECT