‘Fake-brick cladding and psychedelic walls
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