Bell house

Bell house


by Danielle Townsend 

Neglected house that just had to be snapped up by its new owner is brought back to life once more.

renovations gallery 

Bell House was constructed as a two bedroom timber cottage during World War II, between 1944 and 1945. The first owner was a gentleman named Clarence Bell, who was a master at the TSS College (The Southport School). He and his family lived there until 1978, when architect Bob Boyce bought the cottage.

During the years Bob had the home, he extended the rooms with bay windows plus an additional wing that’s now the master bedroom. He also added a large deck area to the rear of the house.

The dwelling had been vacant for eight or nine years when it came up for sale again and, not surprisingly, it wasn’t in a good state. “My client, who has a fascination with old buildings, cars and motorbikes, decided he had to have this cottage,” says builder Bryce Rogers of Ground Control. “His instructions to me were, ‘If you can’t rebuild it, I won’t buy it.’ The home was quite dilapidated, with termite and dry rot infestation, so the challenge was on and here is the result.”

In addition, there were also leaks in the roof, the electricals were not up to the required standard and lots of general work was needed. In taking on the sizeable project, Bryce was inspired by the building’s character, giving the home a “new life” and reinventing the property’s history.

“It was to be a home to live in, not just a house, and had to be informal and practical,” says Bryce. Fitting with these criteria, the special design consideration was the creation of entertainment areas and relaxing/reading areas.

“The living areas were all very small and uncomfortable, so we decided to open up the whole house by leading the living areas onto a deck/ entertaining centre with a pool,” says Bryce. “Down came walls, out went a bedroom and in came the entertaining area, new powder room, a new guest ensuite and a third bedroom.

“The bathrooms have the theme of functional luxury; the client wanted the feel of walking into a hotel ensuite, which we created with darkgrey honed stone floor tiles, white-tiled walls and Luxurious Ash laminate joinery,” says Bryce. Highly functional walk-in dressing rooms were created for each bedroom, with matching veneered Luxurious Ash laminate joinery.

The client’s favourite colour is red, so one of the guest bedrooms boasts red glass wall infills, while a dazzling red crystal chandelier takes centre stage in the ensuite. This invigorating colour is also the colour of choice for the kitchen’s glass splashback, which adds a touch of vibrancy to the Alpine White cupboards and black Byzantine essastone™ benchtop.

However, the biggest splurge in the project, according to Bryce, was the plumbing and kitchen fixtures, such as those by premium brands Hafele, essastone and Franke.

The floors throughout the home are darkened with Cabot’s Japan Black plus three coats of high-grade epoxy over the top. Because the same traditional materials have been used, combined with excellent attention to detail, the home has a feeling of total uniformity throughout.

“The painting scheme to the dwelling is the same colour inside and out,” says Bryce. “We chose Resene Black/White for its warmth and clarity and used different strengths and finishes to make a monochromatic statement.”

The building was made of hardwood and needed a chainsaw to break through it. “For the structural alterations, including the new deck area, garage and gatehouse, we sourced materials from Finlayson’s Timber and Hardware Brisbane, a fantastic place for all traditional and architectural materials as my client was very particular in keeping the existing character and integrity of the home,” says Bryce.

Helping to enhance this traditional feel is the gatehouse, which blends beautifully with the existing dwelling and old white picket fence surrounding the property. Talented ironmonger Craig Wilson, of Artistry in Iron, created a set of grand steel entry gates to make a definite statement at the front of the home.

To the other side of the home is a new garage, which came with its own set of problems. “When a new garage was considered, it also presented a few minor headaches such as a sloping site, water drainage problems and large trees, plus attaching it to the existing dwelling so it seemed like it had always been there,” says Bryce. “Both the client and I are very pleased with the final outcome. My favourite part of the home is the outdoor undercover area that leads to the pool and barbecue spaces,” Bryce says of the finished product. “This home now has the feeling of a traditional dwelling but with an eclectic twist.”

In a fitting tribute to the home’s original owner, Clarence Bell, the client has named the house after him. “The history of the place makes it special, as do my client’s expectations,” Bryce says.

And 65 years after it was constructed in its original form, and with two additions to its name, this home is still making an impact. In August 2010 it won a 2010 Queensland Master Builders Gold Coast Regional Award for Home Renovation/Remodelling Project in its price category. It made the finals for the Queensland State Awards, held in October.

Photography by Geoff Allen  

Project particulars
Designed by:
Dani buchanan architect
PO Box 869, Palm Beach Qld
07 5578 1260
0412 815 944

Built by:
Bryce C Rogers of Ground Control
PO Box 103, Main Beach Qld
07 5531 1575
0407 993 460

Kitchen: Existing blackbutt floors, sanded and stained with Cabot’s Japan Black, then three coats of expoxy applied over
Outdoor: Deck areas are all new kwila, stained and sanded with Resene decking oil

All existing VJ panelled pine, replaced with new VJ pine and replicated mouldings from Paradise Timber
New additions, garage + deck areas: Clad with architectural cladding by Paradise Timber

Cupboards: Quantum Quartz Alpine White two-pack, all with Häfele self-closing drawers and doors
Joinery: Hinterland Kitchens
Benchtops: Byzantine essastone™
Splashbacks: Glass Pohutakawa Red
Special features: Wine rack with glass backing, lit full-length with low-heat-emission fluoros
Tapware: Franke

Supplied by Reece Bathroom Life
Ensuites: Acacia BTW pan and seat, hideaway cisterns BTW
Basins: Tonic vessel basin
Tapware: Kiri high-rise basin mixers Shower: Tahi Satin-Jet Rail Shower, Kiri shower mixer
Towel rails: Kado Lux heated towel rails

Lumen 8 Lighting, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Windows + doors:
Bifolds: Duce Joinery
Wardrobes: Lustrous Elm laminate, Hinterland Kitchens