Featured design: a post-war princess

Featured design: a post-war princess


When architects design their own homes, the results are somewhat surprising.

new home designs 

Many would imagine that an architect’s own residence would be at the pinnacle of architectural design, however this is rarely the case. Most architects inhabit a modest home and work within an equally modest budget just like everybody else. The difference is that their private projects provide a platform for exploring their architectural ideals, as we can see in this project from Kieron Gait Architects.

From the street, the house maintains its modest post-war charm and the local neighborhood character; however, from the rear it speaks a different language. To create the additional space required by the owners, the existing form was extruded, with the new interior space treated as a carved volume from the existing structure, which was then further defined through creative design decisions and material selection.

From the entry a clear line of sight can be made through the living space and into the rear garden. Bedrooms flank the central open space on the east side and the garage and kitchen to the west, with a large skylight overhead. Light is encouraged into dark corners from both natural and artificial sources and the layer of new outdoor space creates a strong relationship between a large south-facing rear yard with distant Gateway views, which was previously non-existent. Now a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, it has followed an apartment-style of planning where the floor area is maximised and no space is wasted. In addition to this, the architect states that the “differing floor levels and treatment of joinery creates an ambiguity of function and the use of contained or distant views, which allows the spaces to appear more complex and un-defined than the planning suggests”.

The changing levels are treated playfully, inviting an engagement from those who encounter them, everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Steps become seats and balustrades become tables — creating a space that can comfortably absorb anywhere from two to 20 people. Silver ash timber is used throughout the renovation, a material which is considered quite expensive yet completely justified by the architect/ owners. It creates a high level of finish relative to the simple construction methods, ultimately making this house “punch above its weight” in an architectural sense, as the owners put it. The beautiful timber finishes and crisp white walls are a stark contrast to the dark and dysfunctional wallpaper-clad rooms that existed previously.

This renovation truly reflects the owners’ desires, consciously ignoring the typical market trends and real estate advice. They adopted a “build what you need” approach which is rare in today’s society. There is no media room, no double garage, no rumpus and no wine cellar and they couldn’t be more satisfied. The owners have incorporated everything that suits their lifestyle, something which comes from a complete understanding of how you live, while expressing a full commitment to the build and expressing their personalities at the same time. In terms of sustainability measures that have been put in place, the design aims to catch prevailing breezes and promote an un-airconditioned lifestyle.

Two 5000-litre rainwater tanks have been installed under the decks to capture rainfall, which is then used for irrigation. Insulation has also been increased compared to the existing situation, making the interior spaces much more comfortable year-round.

Project Particulars
Designed by: Kieron Gait Architects
PO Box 630, Bulimba Qld 4710
07 3399 5446

Built by: Owner-builder

Kitchen: Spotted gum T&G Flooring. Finished with Bona Traffic
Dining/living/bedroom: Existing floorboards sanded and polished, finished with Bona Traffic
Stair: Spotted gum T&G Flooring, finished with Bona Traffic
Outdoor: Spotted gum decking finished with Feast Watson Decking Oil

Kitchen: Silver ash lining boards, finished with Wattyl Estapol
Dining/living/bedroom: Plasterboard — Dulux Whisper White
Outdoor: Silver ash lining boards, finished with Celavit General Purpose Clear

Benchtop: Stainless steel
Splashback: Stainless steel
Cabinetry: Silver ash veneer
Appliances: Miele

Bathroom fittings
Cabinetry: Custom mirror cabinets with silver ash veneer
Basin: Duravit ‘Happy D’
Tiles/walls and floor: White wall tiles, Basalt floor tiles
Sanitary fixtures: Duravit Happy D WC
Taps: Brodware Stik
Shower/bath: Kaldewei

Concealed fluorescent lighting to living and dining area. Black recessed downlights to all other areas. Deck has Ligman uplights recessed in deck and Coral pendant in black by David Trubridge

Windows + external doors
New Guinea rosewood windows and doors by Duce