From the ornate timber fretwork to the covered verandas, Queenslander-style homes have achieved iconic status with their infamous features
The authentic Queenslander remains a much-loved style of home; one that can be found right around the state. The traditional Queenslander, which had its genesis in the early 1800s, is a one-storey timber home that is raised off the ground, either sitting atop timber stilts or stumps. Its classical architectural features give it its distinctive look and character and have made it a style that never seems to date and one that Queensland families never tire of.
The elevated design was originally devised to deal with tough climatic conditions. By having a high-set home, cooling air was able to circulate beneath and through the dwelling to combat the stifling Queensland summers. Raising the home also provided a degree of protection from floodwaters and the ingress of tropical rains.
Built of solid timber frames with weatherboard cladding, the quintessential Queenslander has a large, covered veranda, another means of providing respite from hot weather and keeping tropical rains at bay. Typically, the veranda is embraced by an ornate balustrade with steps at the front of the home leading down to ground level. As for the roof, an original Queenslander home will have a steep roof pitch and the roofing material will be corrugated iron or, in later years, slate or tiles. Combined, all of these features give a Queenslander its distinctive facade and the street appeal so many people love.
Inside, expect to find timber floors and timber-lined walls and ceilings. An abundance of windows and French doors are also to be expected, letting in natural light and facilitating cross-ventilation, along with high ceilings that make the rooms feel airy and bright. Ornate timber fretwork is another iconic interior design element; one that can also be found on the external structure. Overflowing with period details, inside and out, the Queenslander is not short on charisma.
Queenslander architecture can reflect a variety of architectural styles, including Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco. It also shares many characteristics in common with Hamptons-style homes, another classic architectural style that has taken the new-build market by storm. Another thing Queenslanders and Hamptons homes have in common is the embracing of light colour palettes with the use of white predominating. A technique used to reflect heat, these light colours give the homes a fresh and forever charming look.
Queenslander homes are still highly prized today and the subject of many renovation projects. This can be a painstaking process and depending on where the home is located, there may be strict heritage restrictions that will determine what you can and can’t do. One of the most popular renovations is to raise the home’s upper level, leaving all the original period features in place, and build an extra level underneath.
Internally, original Queenslanders will typically need to be refurbished and rooms like the kitchen, bathroom and laundry modernised, but in a sympathetic manner. The trick is to strike the right balance between maintaining the period charm and creating a home tailored to the way today’s family likes to live.
Of course you can build a reproduction Queenslander, which is a lot less hassle and gives you the look you want but with all the modern-day conveniences built-in. And it means you can build using modern materials and finishes that offer greater longevity and require less maintenance. A house clad in timber weatherboards requires regular repainting; one clad in fibre-cement, wood-look weatherboards does not. There are several companies that specialise in reproduction Queenslander homes which can be customised to suit your needs.
If you have one foot in the traditional camp and one in the modern, you can commission a custom-designed and -built home that employs the fundamental design concepts of the Queenslander — the wide verandas, elevated construction, abundant windows, high ceilings — with a more streamlined contemporary look. Many of the state’s architects have taken what’s best about a traditional Queenslander and used it as a launching pad to create what is dubbed “a modern Queenslander”.
Whatever approach you take, renovation or new-build, the Queenslander style continues to be much loved and has a permanent place in people’s hearts.
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