The privacy clause
A tiny terrace steps up,
When interior designer and stylist Kathy McKinnon bought a run-down Paddington terrace, she was thrilled to be living so close to art galleries, a stylish shopping precinct, and among great cafes and restaurants.
What she wasn’t so enthusiastic about was the lack of privacy that comes with living in such a tightly concentrated residential area. Instead of accepting it as part of inner city living, Kathy designed her outdoor areas to be completely private.
From the outside in
After the removal of an existing shed to create more space, the backyard was then enclosed by a new wall measuring about 2.8m high.
This not only offered absolute privacy, but the height matched the ceiling height inside the house. Now when the back doors of the home are opened, it looks like the rear dining room and backyard are actually one large, seamless space.
Kathy then turned her attention to the 1880s terrace house itself.
“The house is in a sensational locale, but the rooms were small,” she says. “It had been renovated in the ’50s and again in the ’70s with add-ons, but it was very makeshift and there was no light at the back of the house.”
Kathy was keen to keep the original features but removed all the add-ons.
“We basically gutted it, we poured a new foundation, and put in polished concrete floors, which are beautiful in summer, they have such an organic feel,” she says. “In winter I put down floor rugs.” Downstairs now houses the secondary bedroom, while Kathy was able to close off and make a proper master suite upstairs complete with an ensuite. The balcony on this level was expanded and then enclosed with louvres to make it an altogether private space, much like the backyard.
Kathy had lived in the terrace for a short time before the renovation, so she knew how she wanted the home to work. And she realised noise would be an issue.
“I had the good sense to get soundproofing and I knew I wanted two bathrooms,” she says. “Originally, I employed an architect who told me that that was going to be impossible. So I ended up designing it myself.”
Kathy designs and project manages other clients’ homes regularly, so managing the work on her own home wasn’t a huge stretch. Having said that, it wasn’t without hiccups.
“The concrete floor had to be redone — some of the existing conduits were not deep enough,” she says.
“The other challenge was getting all the trades organised. The space is only 3.3m wide by about 15.5m deep, so you couldn’t have the plumber, electrician and carpenter in the house at the same time.
“But I had great tradespeople.”
The big reveal
Kathy also installed a ‘floating blade wall’ in front of the staircase.
“When you open the front door I didn’t want you to see right though the house,” she says. “This way you see part of the staircase and the kitchen.”
The ‘super functional’ galley-style kitchen , positioned just beyond the staircase, has a stainless steel benchtop and marble splashback. The cupboards are white polyurethane with a built-in fridge.
A keen collector of artwork, Kathy chose white paint for the walls to allow sculptures and paintings to decorate the space.
“It’s nice to have all those details around with all the art and fabrics and things like Moroccan rugs I’ve collected from trips.”
Before and after
The main bedroom suite includes an ensuite and private outdoor space.