Woolloongabba – Cottage Pod

Kelly and Anthony and their young family wanted a 4-bedroom inner-city family home on a very tight budget to limit debt. They needed a spacious open indoor-outdoor living area, their own room and plenty of storage. They wanted to live in the house during construction and were prepared to lend a hand.

Their tiny worker's cottage with built in verandahs was on a small lot, with very close neighbours and a sewer line across the middle of the property. The existing floor was below river flood level, and the backyard regularly flooded in heavy rain from the creek behind. Any new construction had to be 500mm higher than existing. On the plus side, it was in a quiet location, backing on to a creek, park and community garden.

New construction is much cheaper than renovation, so we built a compact two-storey pod on stilts at the back of the cottage. Cars park underneath. We created a greater sense of space by opening to the light, with privacy from the neighbours. Old and new buildings are separated (to allow light into the gap between) but linked by a family entry and steps. We kept a sightline through front to back, to create a sense of space. the original stove recess was altered to allow indirect light, but not look at the neighbours. The upper bedroom has northern light and southern views. We used the fastest, off-the-shelf construction techniques to save money. The space under the stairs doubles as a pantry. Anthony and Kelly organised the painting, kitchen, and tiling themselves. When the pod was finished, they moved in, while the builders rebuilt the bathroom and laundry. Using our connections, the project came in on time and budget.

  • Woolloongabba – Cottage Pod

Click an image for a closer look

Tumbulgum transformation

An old-style, relaxed country homestead where they could develop their boutique distillery, care for rescued horses, entertain and host friends and family for extended stays.

This grey 1980s project home had scant connection to its extraordinary location – the ridge of Terranora over paddocks to the north, and the blue hills of northern NSW, over the Tweed River and across canefields, to the south. The house lacked presence. Entry was along a side path, past bathroom windows and through a poorly positioned sliding door. Only a good size floor area and OK bedrooms precluded demolition and starting all over again.

Leave both ends of the existing structure as is for bedrooms and garage. Add on three elements common to traditional homesteads: a ‘stables wing’ to house a garage, office and loft; a ‘side verandah’ as entry; and a ‘great room’ with raked ceiling on a north-south cross axis. What resulted was a calm balanced interior that immediately increased the home’s scale and presence in the landscape.

At one end, the great room roof extended into a north terrace down to paddocks. At the other, a river terrace with a truncated gable framed a sunset silhouette of Mt Warning. Sandstone walls marked the main entry. Inside, a range of large and small spaces to sit, dine and relax were detailed with neutral colours, natural textures and heritage features. Independent living was made possible with a self-contained flat on one side of the house, separated from the family’s three bedrooms, including a master suite with outlook in both directions.

  • Tumbulgum transformation

Click an image for a closer look

Camp Hill – Hamptons & extended family

A generous, functional home for their busy hard-working household of four generations, including two small children, a grandfather, great-grandmother and an adult sister with special needs. A range of indoor and outdoor spaces that would enable everyone to be together or be private, all in ‘Hamptons’ style with strong symmetry in black, white and chrome, to tie in with an existing contemporary-styled pool.

Boxy rooms and a windowless central bedroom were the legacy of an earlier extension in a Queenslander style to this post-war cottage on a regular suburban block. Elsewhere, a new roof and a north-facing pool and garden featuring a charming flowering tree were already complete.

Raise and convert the existing house into five bedrooms on the upper level. Relocate main access to the centre to strengthen formality and create a glimpse from the front door of the spaces beyond. Open the middle of the house with a stair to bring height, light and outlook to both levels of the house. Create two ground-floor bed suites for elders at the front and an open-plan living area at the back. A separate family entry incorporates a dump zone and a side utility yard provides the children with running access between pool and bathroom though the laundry.

  • Camp Hill – Hamptons & extended family

Click an image for a closer look

Graceville – 2011 flood makeover

A three-bedroom home, five metres high and flowing effortlessly down to the in-ground pool, that would allow them to adapt to future floods and ensure that they would never be homeless again. A Queenslander from the street, but inside, a contemporary home, full of light and air.

This 1950’s post-war cottage had been altered three times before it was flooded to above-door height. The original rooms were small and dark, with little connection to the outdoors. It looked nondescript from the street, but had perfect north aspect out the back, overlooking the pool.

Locate the whole house at the top level, so the family could live there after the next flood. Change window and door positions to create view and breeze lines. Locate garage, laundry and stairs 1.5 metres above ground and design each to be either water blasted or replaced cheaply. The open stairwell and double height deck beside the pool creates vertical flow and unifies the levels. A heavy-duty driveway deck, new front roof and verandah grounds the height of the house.

  • Graceville – 2011 flood makeover

Click an image for a closer look