Run-down weatherboard turned light and airy

Run-down weatherboard turned light and airy


home renovations

A run-down weatherboard home has been reinvented by Steffen Welsch Architects. Now it’s a light and airy space set up for family fun.

This home is a tribute to the conveniences of modern living, but it is far from the overly sleek, uber contemporary boxes we have come to view in that light. While the home may boast an inbuilt Bose audio system, it too retains a warmth that has been achieved by a very collaborative approach between the architect and the clients. The family were decisive in what they wanted; and basically that came down to needing flexible zones for family and the opportunity to bring their “substandard” bathroom and kitchen into the 21st century.

They wanted their extended family to be able to come and stay for weeks without seeming an imposition yet didn’t want those same spaces going to waste when guestfree. The rooms needed to seem light and airy while retaining a generous backyard was also paramount. And the owners also wanted the renovation to be sensitive to the community. “I believe it is subtle and reveals itself slowly; you continually discover new aspects of the design, so you never get sick of it,” says architect Steffen Welsch of his design.

The front of the house was repaired so that the key features from the original home continue to last into the future. At the back of the house a living zone was added to create a central courtyard, which gives northerly sun access to a greater portion of the home. A second storey was built onto the new rear addition, which contains a guest bedroom, another bathroom and a retreat. While the layout of the home is central to its success, many of the well-considered and personalised features are what set it apart from your run-of-the-mill new home. The old chimney was restored lovingly and now takes pride of place in the centre of the renovation.

The feature staircase was admittedly a big splurge on the project. “It was created by an artist, Laura Woodward,” explains Steffen. “It was always intended to be an important feature in the centre of the house and it has become a significant element that defines the character of the living space.” The stair has also been located centrally, which brings a great sense of fun for the children. “Before I had children, a friend told me kids like to run around in circles — and this is exactly what happens in this house. It is a joy to see them riding their bikes and scooters around the stairs.”

Other key elements that are insightful into what the family places value on are the roof terrace and the abundance of environmental considerations taken. “The roof terrace,” Steffen shares, “lets you reflect, retreat, look at the old house and look over roofs. It evokes childhood memories of being upstairs and looking out of the window into the distance.” Environmentally, the whole process was an exercise in finding the best fit — from selection of materials to the orientation on the site.

Double glazing and the rainwater tank are substantially beneficial to the family’s impact on community resources, while smaller details such as a skylight into the bedroom mean that electric lighting doesn’t need to be used during the day. This home perfectly executes the request for interaction and privacy, light and flexibility, energy efficiency and the allowance for future changes. Steffen allocates its success to “a good client relationship, dialogue with the clients and many long talks about the design”. Talks that have lead to an intimate family home that speaks volumes of their personal sense of style.

Key Eco-considerations

• Habitable rooms located and oriented to receive direct sunlight (except the upstairs bedroom, which does not require passive solar heating).
• The living room can be closed off and screened from direct sunlight in summer.
• All living areas can be closed off from circulation spaces to maintain constant temperature.

• The central courtyard was created to increase the number of north-facing rooms.
• Larger openings to the north, smaller openings to the south to reduce heat loss.

• Overhangs are dimensioned to allow winter sun access and provide shading in summer.
• Solar pergola to front of house.
• External blinds for sun shading.

• Door and window openings are placed to provide ventilation diagonally through rooms.
• Height of openings was considered to draw cool air in and vent hot air in summer.
• Stair used as thermal chimney to draw hot air out.

• Slab on ground and insulated block walls with internal hard plaster for thermal mass.
• Timber-framed walls with bulk insulation and air-cell insulation blanket (Total R-value of 3).
• R4 bulk roof insulation.
• Timber-framed, double-glazed windows.

• The heating systems output is low, reflecting the reduced need for space heating.
• No cooling required.

Project Particulars

This project was designed by STEFFEN WELSCH ARCHITECTS First Floor, 252 St Georges Rd, North Fitzroy Tel: 03 946 6283 Email: Web:
This project was built by ENVIROLINE, STUART MCLEAN Tel: 0425 759 999 Licence Number: DBU 12123

Internal: Spotted gum floorboards
Outdoor: Yellow stringybark

Kitchen/dining/living: Hard plaster over masonry for thermal mass and acoustic qualities, Dulux Vivid White
Bedroom/stair: Painted plasterboard, Dulux Vivid White
Outdoor: Cement render painted in Aalto (light grey), western red cedar and stained Cyprus pine cladding, Opaque acrylic sheet to parts of the old house to show the cut
between old and new

Benchtop: Corian in Everest
Splashback: Carrara Marble
Cabinetry: Two-pack MDF
Appliances: Smeg gas cooktop, Gaggenau electric underbench oven, Bosch pullout rangehood, Franke undermount sink, Bosch semi-integrated dishwasher, Jenn-Air stainless-steel fridge/freezer

Cabinetry: Two-pack MDF, tiled MDF to hide joinery and blend in with walls
Basin: Catalano Zero Verso 70 from Rogerseller
Tiles/walls and floor: Bisazza glass mosaic tiles from Lapege
Sanitary fixtures: Catalano Zero wall-face pan from Rogerseller
Taps: Dornbracht taps imported from Germany
Shower/bath: Kaldewei Vaio Duo from Reece Design

Surf wall lights from Artemide, Tolomeo wall and ceiling lights from Artemide, Kreon Down In-Line downlights from DEDECE, LED light strips

Glass: Viridian glass, all double glazed
Frames: Hardwood frames manufactured by McKay Joinery Melbourne

Roof: Custom Orb Zincalume finish from BlueScope Steel
Decking: Yellow stringybark
Landscaping: Bamboo, grass and gum trees
Screening: Western red cedar louvered screen, opaque window films stencilled with Dadaist poems
Furniture: Poliform cupboards, other loose furniture imported from Germany
Accessories: External pull-down fabric blinds by Issey Sun Shade Systems