Ray of light

Ray of light


An outdated coastal home receives a much-needed injection of light, turning it from average to amazing.


It’s incredible what sunlight can do in a home. It can turn a dark and dreary house into something warm, bright and cheerful. And when living in such an idyllic location, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the beautiful coastal light? 

This family home in Kiama, on the NSW south coast, was presented to designer/builder Paul Kirk for a dramatic transformation. Before the renovations, the home was “small, dark and cold on winter afternoons”, according to its owners, Greg and Fiona. 

“The house was typical for the 1970s era in which it was built: red brick, tiled roof, three bedrooms, one bathroom and small dining and kitchen areas. The homes of this time typically had little articulation, small and virtually unusable verandahs, and the homes loosely catered for the two-adult and two-children family scenario,” said Paul. 

“While commonly built during this era, the homes concerned themselves little with cross-flow ventilation, energy efficiency for heating and cooling or water-saving devices. These concerns and more are our modern-day necessities in terms of liveability and meeting the basic needs of owners.” 

The addition, inspired by the sun and the family’s desire to escape their dark space and enjoy the sunshine, needed to transform the 1970s-era house into a modern family home to accommodate three growing children. “We wanted another living space with lots of sunlight and another bedroom with an ensuite,” said Greg and Fiona. “With the budget in mind, it would have been easier to extend at the back of the house with a simple lean-to roof. It was a challenge and a rare opportunity to extend out the front, where we had the most visual impact on the home’s aesthetic appearance as well as maximising the natural lighting without compromising natural light and air flow to the rear of the home.” 

According to Paul Kirk, “The client needed the renovation addition to be completed within a set budget of $150,000. While the initial concept was to add another living space and bedroom, it became clear that the existing house was dysfunctional for the clients in many regards. It became our commitment to ensure that we not only provided some additional living space, but that we also ensured the home would become one they could enjoy living in for many years to come,” said Paul. 

The changes also had to take into consideration a long-standing part of the property; a beautiful tree which the owners enjoy sitting under on a sunny day. It’s so loved that it partly inspired the home’s design. “The liquid amber in the front of the yard was a well-established tree and precious to the client. In order to protect the tree from the renovation and addition works, the owner carefully trimmed some roots and preserved them with root guard. From the post-renovation photographs it’s easy to see just how healthy and beautiful the tree is,” said Paul.

Greg and Fiona had to plant numerous bushes and garden to mask the front of the home, which they intensely disliked. The addition, at the designer’s suggestion, was directed to the front of the home, keeping the backyard free for the children to play with their friends and their pet Dalmatians. 

In total, 69 square metres of living space was added, including an entrance foyer, living area and master bedroom with ensuite; designed to create greater parental privacy as well as larger and more functional bedroom space.

An additional 32 square metres of deck area was also incorporated into the property. The middle deck space was designed to create a private yet safe and supervised family area for young children to play, and also for meals and socialising. Importantly, its other function was to directly allow sunlight and cross-flow ventilation throughout the back living areas of the home, to increase the home’s air quality and liveability. 

The creation of 28 square metres of back deck area formed an additional space for play, entertaining and relaxing. A four-panel sliding door was placed to the southern wall, giving access to the backyard and decks. 

A 1.5-metre wall separating the kitchen from the family room was reduced to allow sunlight as well as cross-flow ventilation to move throughout the home. It also created greater accessibility to the kitchen and dining areas. 

Window placement within the addition had to utilise the height of the roofline to ensure sunlight entered the home during every month of the year. All of the high-maintenance timber windows were replaced with low-maintenance aluminium-framed windows. Double-hung and louvre windows were inserted into the northern and eastern windows of the home. These louvre windows needed to be accurately placed to utilise the movement of air and to guide it throughout the home. 

The angle of the roof to the addition had to allow sunlight into the existing living area plus the house was also reroofed; the dated tiles were removed and replaced with contemporary Colorbond iron. 

The exterior materials of choice were shadow clad, run vertically, and linear clad was run horizontally, enabling the owners to personalise their home with their own chosen colour schemes and thus reflect their family’s personality. 

This renovation addition is special because from the initial conception meetings, Paul Kirk was committed to maximising functional floorspace for living rooms, bedrooms and deck areas; family liveability through the effective flow between living areas; energy efficiency for heating and cooling the home; controlled cross-flow ventilation; as well as air quality and low-maintenance building materials suiting a busy family. These commitments were made for the set budget of under $150,000. 

According to Greg and Fiona, the best part of the renovated space is “the large front windows that capture the sun and the middle deck/courtyard”. And now there’s no better place for them and their family to relax on a lazy weekend than at home. 

Project particulars
Designed and built by:
Paul L Kirk Pty Ltd 
02 4233 2743
0407 584 978

Kitchen/dining/living/bedroom: Continued pine floorboards through and Enviropro — polyurethane finish 
Outdoor: Hardwood decking 

Kitchen/casual dining/living: Dulux Apparition, trim — Whisper White
Bedroom: Dulux Bamboo White, trim — Whisper White
Hallway: Dulux Apparition
Outdoor: Light blue (Dulux Sell Out), dark blue (Dulux Enterprise), trim (Dulux Antique White USA)
Other: Back of front doors: Dulux Eye of Newt

Sanitary fixtures + bathroom fittings:
Porcher Esedra toilet, Kensington semi-recessed vanity, Satinjet rail shower, Mizu mirror shaving cabinet, Mizu 1500 rails, Dorf vanity taps 

Lighting: Downlights 

Windows + external doors: Aluminium clear anodised