This existing pre-war cottage was largely in original condition, except for the 70’s addition which saw the front verandah enclosed and ceilings strangely lowered in the front rooms. The block sloped from back to front, and although still a standard 405sqm, it was a few metres wider than average. This allowed for a non-standard approach to the raise and build under, as an extension to the side and rear of the house could be accommodated within the allowable setbacks for a small lot. 

On the lower level, a 4th bedroom with ensuite is kept private from the family living areas for visiting guests, and second living space and office is located adjacent. This arrangement provides flexibility now and into the future to accommodate current work from home requirements, or future live in nanny or grandparents. Together with a garage and undercroft storage (and man cave), the family can live comfortably on the upper level, limiting the need for the young family to be traipsing up and down the stairs all day.

Unique timber details are used throughout the space – as bedhead to the master which allows natural light into the room, as built in dining table with timber detailing that continues through the kitchen joinery adjacent, and as semi transparent privacy screen to the downstairs office and rumpus. Smaller timber details for handles and custom pendant lighting are also incorporated. Other finishes including wide board blackbutt flooring, penny round marble splashback tiles, and herringbone wall tiling, bring pattern and texture into the interior spaces and complement the timeless palette of materials.

The design centered around creating a functional family home on predominantly one level that allowed seamless integration into the small rear yard and some separation from the bedrooms. The planning of these spaces to suit the young family was the main driver for the design, rather than any one grand gesture, and this has driven all of the details from larger room layouts to selection of tapware and finishes.

As is often the case, the original cottage was more than able to accommodate 3 good sized bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, including a separate toilet for general use. The new extension incorporating Kitchen (with larder and laundry), dining, and living space then steps down and opens to the Northern aspect and rear yard. This volume integrates the rear deck and grass space for the kids, so that there are no distinct separation from inside to outside, making for a space that feels large and inclusive. Early consultation with the engineer meant that the line of structural support could be shifted to the edge of the outdoor area, creating a timber element that bounds the outdoor space rather than interrupts it. Large stacker doors hide away on both sides to open up inside to out, while a full wall of louvres to the plunge pool bring the water element inside.

Key to the initial design was the inclusion of significant solar panels, inverter and battery storage system, sufficient for the family to take the house of the grid and be self-sufficient. The Northern aspect to the rear affords ample natural light into living spaces, while bedrooms are located in the darker areas and where openings where limited. Glass louvres at the front and back of the house create great cross ventilation which can be left open all day and night without security concerns. The house does not need air conditioning, but all sleeping and living spaces have high quality fans to help with extra hot days. Even the drying court has been considered to capture the most of the sunlight, in spite of its cozy confines. In addition to power considerations, a hidden rainwater tank is plumbed to all toilets and washing machine, and hard external paving has been substituted for a permeable driveway to better manage water use. The family also wanted to consider maintenance and the time and resources to clean the house, so all bathrooms are arranged to eradicate the need for costly and difficult-to-keep-clean glass shower screens, as well as simple floor wastes over grates. External cladding has been kept simple but contrasts with the original timber cottage and maintenance free metal cladding has been used where access is difficult.