Fig Tree Pocket – 1970s makeover

To enlarge the house in harmony with the land, opening it up to expansive western views – without baking in the heat. To unite home and garden with a large indoor-outdoor living room and to add a new, secure entry for visitors and family.

This magnificent, high property with lovely trees, gardens and tennis court was beautifully maintained throughout but its interior spaces were too small for family gatherings across three generations. Originally a compact 1950s Brisbane home, bitsy modifications over the years had added verandahs, rooms dug out from underneath, a free-standing garage and an architect-designed 80s extension.

Create a double height living space nestled between garage and house and marry all three structures with thoughtful openings for air, view and security, careful proportions and detailing. Create private and public courtyards through a gated entry porch, with new landscaping at both ends of the property. Add shade-cloth awnings and new handrails to transform the deck into livable space, both inside and out.

  • Fig Tree Pocket – 1970s makeover

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Paddington – Purple pod

A light, airy, private pod with a view at the bottom of her garden, in harmony with her existing home and its neighbors, with the flexibility to either be rented as a yoga studio, accommodate the owner’s father or adult children and incorporating a garage that might double as a pottery studio. Budget: less than $175,000.

What was originally a corner store was now a purple residence that had been gradually extended, back and under, over decades, in a range of styles and textures. A steep south-facing slope and antiquated drainage added to the design challenge for construction, universal access and north light.

A 54-square-metre room with bathroom and kitchen that can be divided into living and sleeping zones. A north-facing skillion creates light and space. A lower deck provides a spacious outdoor living area, connects the pod to the house and provides level access to the street. Windows are carefully placed to allow views, but not outlook to or from neighboring homes. Underneath, recycled glass panels look onto massive sandstone boulder retaining walls and let in dappled light from the garden above – all completed on time and budget.

  • Paddington – Purple pod

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Toowong – 1960s stairs

To increase living areas, create a bigger bedroom, internal stairs and incorporate a pool, all on a budget.

Crazy paving marked the entry path to this original late-60s build, renovated by the previous owner in a black and white colour scheme. From a street-level carport and tiny, low store room under the house, the property rose steeply into bushland. Inside, a single living area had everyone living on top of each other.

Convert the front lawn to a pool courtyard and create a ground floor entry and double-height glazed stairwell to link both levels of the house. Private from the street, the pool becomes a highlight of arrival and movement through the house. Add open tread black and timber steps with chrome verticals in keeping with the Mad Men styling of the original house. Tuck a bag / shoe rack beside the front door, upgrade the storeroom into a teenagers’ retreat / pool room with utility bathroom, and pop the bedroom out onto the verandah to create more space.

  • Toowong – 1960s stairs

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Chapel Hill – 1980s bushland retreat

A spacious white minimalist kitchen with an island bench and a new back deck beside the existing pool. Clutter-free living and more space.

This 1970s dark brick house had a tiny kitchen, no storage and ugly, outdated wet areas. Despite backing onto beautiful Brisbane bushland at Mt Coot-tha, the view could not be seen from inside or easily accessed.

Careful demolition to create views through the house to the bushland beyond. Rearrange the rooms, add a new deck and redecorate all interiors.

  • Chapel Hill – 1980s bushland retreat

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