‘Fake-brick cladding and psy­che­delic walls

Living Etc - - HOMESETC -

meant this Thir­ties bun­ga­low didn’t ex­actly at­tract a lot of prospec­tive buy­ers,’ re­calls its cur­rent owner Na­reen Hol­loway. ‘To say it wasn’t re­ally our style is a mas­sive un­der­state­ment. It was known lo­cally as not just the worst house in the street – but in the en­tire neigh­bour­hood!’

There were pos­i­tives, how­ever. The old prop­erty, and its 620 sq m of land, did meet some very spe­cific cri­te­ria that topped Na­reen and her hus­band Indy Lingam’s wish list. Lo­cated op­po­site a park and just ten min­utes from Mel­bourne city cen­tre, it was the per­fect spot for the cou­ple to make a fam­ily home that would, im­por­tantly, have min­i­mal im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. ‘Indy was in­sis­tent that our home should have north-fac­ing liv­ing spa­ces, so it would be more eco-friendly,’ says Na­reen. ‘And, be­ing on a cor­ner plot, we knew that we could ex­tend the house, but no one else would be able to over­shadow it by building nearby.’

Na­reen and Indy wanted to cre­ate a home that was peace­ful yet stylish. And while they could have de­mol­ished the bun­ga­low and started again from scratch, they chose in­stead to re­ju­ve­nate the ex­ist­ing prop­erty.

‘We do love a chal­lenge,’ says Na­reen with a smile.

First they tack­led the rear of the house, knock­ing down an old kitchen and lean-to and ex­tend­ing the bun­ga­low to in­stall a new kitchen-diner, liv­ing room, laun­dry room and WC, plus a TV room that leads out­side to the ex­ter­nal deck­ing. ‘We worked closely with an ar­chi­tect to cre­ate a pas­sive so­lar de­sign for the ex­ten­sion,’ ex­plains Na­reen. ‘By us­ing ma­te­ri­als with a high ther­mal mass, such as the con­crete floor and heat-re­tain­ing “rammed earth walls”, the sun’s heat on a win­ter’s day is re­leased at night, dras­ti­cally cut­ting fuel bills.’

Gen­er­ous eaves were built in the ceil­ing of the ex­ten­sion, so the sum­mer sun doesn’t di­rectly en­ter the house. This means that the long, cold win­ters and dry sum­mers the fam­ily ex­pe­ri­ence in Mel­bourne are ef­fi­ciently dealt with. ‘We only need one wall-mounted gas heater in win­ter and, in sum­mer, we use en­ergy-ef­fi­cient evap­o­ra­tive cool­ing and ceil­ing fans,’ Na­reen ex­plains. To coun­ter­act Aus­tralia’s fre­quent droughts, the house is able to store 13,000 litres of rain wa­ter, which pro­vides for the toi­lets, wash­ing ma­chine and all the gar­den taps… not to men­tion guilt-free wa­ter fights for the kids dur­ing the sum­mer!

In­ter­est­ingly, the cou­ple chose to buck the trend and not build a com­pletely open-plan kitchen/din­ing/liv­ing area. ‘Hav­ing the TV room sep­a­rated by a hall­way to the kitchen-diner has re­ally worked for us,’ says Na­reen. ‘We did con­tem­plate open­ing the whole space out, but hav­ing two dis­tinct ar­eas suits our fam­ily. The kids are get­ting older and louder and want a sep­a­rate spot to be with their friends. And we like to re­lax in the liv­ing room by our­selves when they’re fi­nally in bed.’

Af­ter a brief pause in con­struc­tion while they wel­comed their third child Mieka, Na­reen and Indy set about re­fresh­ing the orig­i­nal Thir­ties façade. ‘We pulled off all the as­bestos faux-brick ex­te­rior and were ex­cited to find that the old weath­er­board cladding was in great con­di­tion,’ she says. ‘Then we re­placed all the alu­minium win­dows with dou­ble-glazed, tim­ber-framed ver­sions.’ A new deck and ve­randa were also added to cre­ate an invit­ing en­trance. ‘It’s a great place to sit on a sum­mer’s evening and watch the sun set as the kids play in the park and play­ground just over the road,’ says Na­reen.

As an im­porter of stylish, hand­crafted home­ware from around the globe, the dé­cor of her re­vamped in­te­rior came eas­ily to Na­reen. ‘It re­ally is a col­lec­tion of things we love that have been made by lo­cal and over­seas ar­ti­sans – I call it “mod­ern Aus­tralian style”,’ she says. Com­fort­able, fam­i­lyfriendly fur­ni­ture up­hol­stered in nat­u­ral wools and linens, to­gether with walls painted in off white, form a neu­tral back­ground for Na­reen’s col­lec­tions of brightly coloured art­work, cush­ions and ac­ces­sories.

The house is now at a stage where Na­reen and Indy can re­ally en­joy the re­wards of all their hard work and plan­ning. ‘We love open­ing the doors to the deck and sink­ing back into our sofa with mu­sic on and a glass of wine,’ says Na­reen. ‘We have a great view out over the gar­den and we’ve made such good friends with our neigh­bours – we could never leave here now.’ See Na­reen’s home­ware range at mar­moset­found.com.au

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