Cliff hanging renovation

Cliff hanging renovation



Capturing the essence of this idyllic location was the key to a successful renovation.

Photography Bonnie Savage Photography

Waking up to spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay every morning was the exciting promise for homeowners Graham and Elizabeth when they embarked on their retirement renovation.

Their home was uniquely settled on a steep escarpment with unimpeded views right over the water and, to their great fortune, no neighbours within spying distance. The challenge of the renovation was to turn a modest, two-storey 1970s-style house into a home that found a balance between exploiting the outlook, responsible environmental design and providing comfort for the residents.

“We were so perfectly placed with a north-/ northwest-facing outlook directly onto the water that the view had to be the main feature of the home,” says Graham. “But with the property being so susceptible to extreme weather from the glaring summer sun, we wanted to make sure the house still felt comfortable so we didn’t have to resort to wearing sunglasses inside.”

John Sanderson, of John Sanderson Architects, says that he revelled in the challenge of designing a new home that welcomed the natural environment inside, but needed to remain practical to create a homely living experience.

For environmental and practical reasons, John retained a substantial amount of the existing twostorey structure but rearranged living areas. The spectacular views determined that the main living areas, external deck and the master bedroom would be located on the upper levels, with the lower levels to accommodate three bedrooms, a billiard room and informal living areas. The entire roof was removed and many of the existing walls were taken out in order to allow for the extension to the west. The new roof was designed to create an internal sense of height and afforded the inclusion of motorised windows to encourage cross ventilation, while lower profiles of the ceiling provide areas of intimacy and comfort.

The house engages so well with its surrounds because of the abundance of glass that was installed along the coastal-facing side of the home. “The rear north wall is entirely Viridian high-performance glass in large 2.4-metre-high and 2.5-metre-wide sliding panel windows,” says John. “The use of highperformance glass provides maximum protection from solar heat gain, defends the internal finishes from UV degradation and avoids glare, especially when the west sun, late in the day, is hardest to control.

“We further decided that architectural add-ons, such as specially designed sunscreens protecting the north-facing upper-level glazing and a continuous upper deck protecting the lower-level glazing, would assist the thermal performance of the building in the summer months.

“At selected corners of the building, in order to not hinder the panoramic views, window mullions were omitted and the glass butt-jointed to ensure a seamless vista,” says John. As the home was a two-storey building that cut into the escarpment, the other challenge was to achieve a suitable level of natural light to the southern side of the building.

“The solution was to place a large three-anda- half-metre by three-metre glazed roof over the stairwell, which not only achieved the light flooding to the lower floor but also created a sense of grandeur and a focus to the main vertical connection of the home,” says John.

Graham considers his new home the definition of comfort and durability that honours and respects the beautiful bay environment while conveying a feeling of casual comfort.

“Since we moved in, the home has withstood the extremes of the environment, from the dramatic wind and rain of the escarpment to the glare of the sun and water and the heat of summer,” says Graham. “All the while we’ve enjoyed a comfortable home with beautiful views, saved on energy bills and haven’t once had to wear sunnies inside.”


This project was designed by JOHN SANDERSON ARCHITECTS 8 Lawes Street, Hawthorn Vic 3122 03 9855 1588

This project was built by MARTIN ROWLEY, GLOBAL SPACES 0412 369 694

Throughout: Dulux Natural White

Living: Jarrah parquetry in herringbone pattern from Treeco Timber
Bedrooms: Supertuft Escape Velour in Blast

Benchtop: Parbury Silestone Blanco Zeus and Blanco Norte

Bathroom fittings
Tiles/walls and floor: From Urban Edge
Ceramics, National Tiles and Johnson
Sanitary fixtures: Swan Plumbing

Joinery: Two-pack Dulux Natural White
Window glass: Viridian ComfortPlus™ Clear, Viridian’s ComfortPlus™ Neutral
Fireplace: Jetmaster Universal
Hearth: Honed Adelaide black granite

Balcony/deck: Jarrah decking
Render: Dulux Stony Creek
External screens: Webforge Outlook EA 323