In 1890, when this house welcomed its first occupants, its inner suburban location was home to wide streets and sparsely dotted homes, with views clear across the Brisbane River to the rolling hills on the other side. Today, it’s jostled by its pushy neighbours who’ve crowded what is now a busy street in a highly sought-after neighbourhood hence why is deserved this beautiful renovation.
While the front of the house retains its heritage facade, what lies behind is a modern home for a couple who love to entertain friends and family, and who have moved on from the industrial look of their last home and wanted to soften practical hard surfaces with the warmth of timber and other natural products.
The views of the river are long gone, drowned by the tide of development, but the upside is that as the city has risen with its high-rise towers, it has created another view for Tina and Chris, the proud owners of this hybrid home.
When they purchased the home the couple planned a complete renovation and extension to make the most of the city views which, while they are lovely by day when softened by a sea of green foliage, are magical at night. They consulted architect Craig Webster of Monster Ideas who came up with an imaginative and potential enhancing design for the house – starting in the middle.
Where once the entry to house was up the front stairs (you can see the top of the stairs in the old photo above), now access is to the side, through a metal screen door and into a small courtyard which houses an array of outdoor artworks, including a pair of brightly coloured (and very quiet) chickens and a giant pear.
The decorative metal theme is continued with a screen opposite the front door, which is an impressive sliding copper feature, extra wide to bring in the summer breezes. The door is in itself an historical artefact; it is marred and scarred by the hands of the people who worked to build the home, and Chris and Tina have no intention of removing these marks.“They remind us every day of all the workmen who contributed to making this home – it used to be a tradition that tradesmen left their mark somewhere on the projects they worked on as a record of their presence” says Tina.
Up a flight of timber steps and on one side slatted timber screens Tina’s office while allowing light and breezes through. On the other a wide timber top is a great place for family treasures, while storage underneath keeps this long sitting room neat and tidy. Opposite is a slatted timber wall which shelters the stairs leading up to the master bedroom, and which can be completely closed off to prevent access to the upstairs area when required.
The warmth of timber was one of Tina’s absolute requirements and the dark boards which feature in the living room and down the hallway have been treated to extra time in the drying kiln to achieve a‘roasted’ finish.“We got them from Queensland Timber Flooring, and they are exactly what I wanted” said Tina.
The floors complement the timber screening and the timber features in the kitchen to add warmth to the all-white interior.
At the end of the sitting room and up three steps is the ‘deck’, which is one of those modern marvels where walls of glass fold back to open up two sides of the room, inviting breezes and sunny days inside but tempering them with exterior motorised aluminium venetian blinds from Vanguard Blinds which allow any number of configurations to suit the conditions on the day. The floors here are limestone which means that if it rains, it’s not a tragedy. The long glass topped and metal framed table has been teamed with moulded plastic and metal chairs to reduce maintenance issues, while delivering a casually stylish look. The backdrop is pretty special too!
Chris is the cook in the family, and he designed the kitchen to suit himself and his style of cooking – and why not? It’s a half and half kitchen, long and lean, with one area concealed in the space behind the stairs and the other out and proud as part of the living and dining area. Graced with the gorgeous ‘Arabescato’ marble to benchtops and splashbacks, and with timber features, this kitchen has really earned its place centre stage.While the on-show section is home to the cooktop and oven and stainless steel surrounded sink, the backstage part houses the pantry, another sink, more appliances and loads of storage.
In the living room obscure glass louvres in banks on the side closest to the neighbours allow filtered light and fresh air into the living room while providing privacy.
A wall of acid washed Pietra grey marble from S&B Stone in the upper dining room transitions from here to the ground level, where a casual living room opens out to a marvellous pool and outdoor kitchen, dining table and built-in day beds, and where a combination of slatted timber and metal screen create a wonderful shadow-play on the table. Bamboo planted along the back wall will eventually provide a screen of green and complement the aubergine on the support structures which adds such dash to this much used area.
Photography by John Downs