What Queenslander Renovations Architects Think About Queenslanders

The PlaceMate Team - Queenslander Renovations Architects

The PlaceMate Team – Queenslander Renovations Architects

Queenslander Renovations Architects

For over 25 years, the team at PlaceMate Architects has been designing and renovating authentic Queenslander homes from our home base at St. Lucia. With this wealth of experience in architecture and building design, our Brisbane-based renovations architects love working with this unique character style of housing. Given PlaceMate Architects’ passion for liveable houses, we asked our local Queenslander renovations architects about their favourite features of the iconic homes.

Queenslander Design Features

The iconic Queenslander homes were built from 1900 into World War II. It is defined by the Brisbane City Council as “a “Character House” in a “Demolition Control Precinct”. These protected areas are called ‘Demolition Control Precincts’ (DCPs). ‘Character houses’ are those Queenslanders built before 1947.” Most protected character houses are located in inner-city suburbs of Paddington, Ashgrove, Toowong, and Indooroopilly, among others. Yet some outer suburbs, such as Ipswich and Woodend, include character housing.

All Queenslanders share a number of design features. Most are raised on stumps and have tin roofs. In addition, they have front verandahs, timber floors, weatherboard (VJ) walls, and timber-framed windows. 

Over time, our way of living has changed from when Queenslanders were first designed. Even one hundred years on, Queenslanders are still undergoing renovations to suit modern family life. And it’s because the original homes are not very compatible with the indoor-outdoor living of today’s families.

So we asked our Queenslander renovations architects, what they think of this classic home. What do they love about the design style? And, if they designed them today, what would they do differently?

Queenslander renovations architects blend tradition with modern

Queenslander renovations architects blend tradition with modern in Brisbane suburbs.


The Principal Architect

Jan Hogarth, PlaceMate’s principal architect, serves as the leading architectural voice for the firm. Jan guides design projects for buildings and structures.

Its no wonder Jan adores historic homes as a long-term Brisbane resident and architect for over 25 years. She has designed many Queenslander renovations and extensions across Brisbane City in her career.

As a principal architect, she started her own firm in 2007 and has been practicing local architecture ever since. Jan approaches each project with a flexible philosophy. It’s a given that she uses the spirit of the original building as the base from which to redesign, either from scratch or as a renovation project.

What Jan loves about Queenslanders.

She loves that they have lasted over 100 years. They continue to be a gorgeous part of Queensland’s landscape. Jan views these houses as having ‘lived a life’. She sees that Queenslander architecture has substance. It knows its place in history. These homes would tell such unique stories if they could talk!

If Jan would change Queenslanders.

Jan also sees the flaws, in part, because these historic homes were not connected to the land. They were built to sit atop their surroundings. A modern renovation must connect the home and the natural environment. Often, Jan is called in when earlier Queenslander renovations fail to meet the needs of the homeowners.

How Jan would redesign a Queenslander.

“I’d keep the pitched roofs, timber structure, and pretty details,” she says.

Jan values a strong connection to the environment. She loves to integrate the outdoor and indoor living areas. A perfect example is the home renovation in Mitchelton (pictured below). PlaceMate Architects transformed the back of the original house into an indoor-outdoor living area. Check out the difference in the photo below.

The central hallway of the classic Queenslander reduces natural light into the home. Jan adds light into the hallway to lighten up all parts of the building. She adds a simple skylight or removes walls to connect the home to the environment. Her other focus is on revealing storage solutions in those hidden areas.

(Before Renovation) Hipped Roof; (After) Gable Roof on extension.

(Before Renovation) Hipped Roof; (After) Gable Roof on extension in Mitchelton.

The Graduate Architect

Krisha Khatri is a graduate architect with a keen eye for interiors.

What Krisha loves about Queenslanders.

She appreciates the homely feeling of the classic home. Krisha loves high ceilings, large verandahs, and tongue and groove boards. She sees potential renovations and extensions as necessary upgrades. The simple Queenslander design can easily be lifted and built underneath.

If Krisha would change Queenslanders.

The negatives of this home design style have become apparent from working on many Queenslander renovations. They need added space and insulation. Soundproofing and additional bathrooms are also needed. While Krisha appreciates the original VJ board, single-skin walls have minimal insulation.

How Krisha would redesign a Queenslander.

“I’d feature the veranda with some classic Queenslander details. One example is using slats between the posts from the verandah floor to the ground level,” Krisha explains. 

“I also like a combination of a hipped and gable roof styles.”

Krisha dislikes designing the house around the hallway. She includes arch details to reflect the original period. And loves big open kitchens for entertaining.

Original Queenslander meets modern kitchen fit for entertaining

Original Queenslander meets modern kitchen fit for entertaining at West End.


The Registered Architecture

Registered architect Jacob McVey has a passion for traditional architectural styles. 

What Jake loves about Queenslanders.

Jake loves the ceiling height and generous verandahs. He is impressed by the flooring and decorative mouldings.

What Jake would change about Queenslanders.

He loves to design wider internal hallways and more natural light. He decries the separation between the outside and inside of the home. Jake’s designs always reflect a strong connection to the garden.

How Jake would redesign a Queenslander.

Jake wants us to enter the Queenslander house from the ground level. That’s instead of from the existing raised verandah, as the photo below shows. This entry is double-height with internal stairs. A mudroom offers additional storage. The kitchen, dining, living, and study nook are all on the ground level. The outdoor deck connects the inside and outside living areas. To maintain privacy, the bedroom and bathroom spaces are upstairs.

Entering the Queenslander home from the ground level.

Entering the Queenslander home from the ground level at Toowong.

The Architects’ Accountant

PlaceMate’s Accountant Liz Tillbrook has been working with home renovation clients and architects for a long time. Liz and her husband also recently renovated and extended their Queenslander home with the help of PlaceMate Architects.

What Liz loves about Queenslanders.

“While Queenslanders were mass-produced to a few basic plans, no two Queenslanders are exactly the same”, says Liz. Each has its own character and personality as seen in the decorative finishes. She also loves the outward appeal of the design finishes and extensive verandahs. Liz also admires the shady verandahs for living outdoors six months of the year.

What Liz would change about Queenslanders

As a homeowner, Liz appreciates the classic verandah. Queenslanders could also be improved to better suit Brisbane’s climate.

How Liz would redesign a Queenslander.

Liz is an advocate for green energy. So she imagines Queenslanders being built and designed with eco-friendly and natural materials. Venting the verandah ceiling on hot summer days benefits the owners’ experience. Hot air rises into the vents rather than being trapped beneath the ceiling.

Learn more about heritage building restrictions. Download the Brisbane City Council’s publication, “A simple guide to Brisbane’s heritage places and character homes.”

Request A Site Visit

Are you thinking of renovating your inner-Brisbane suburban house or Queenslander? Request a site visit with Jan Hogarth, the Principal architect from PlaceMate Architects, before starting any renovation project.