From the inside out

From the inside out


A remarkable renovation has converted this terrace house from an unliveable space into an unbelievable new residence.

Home Renovations 

Prior to the renovation, this house was in a dilapidated and unliveable state, the bathroom and kitchen already demolished and removed. “The previous occupier was a hermit who filled the house with rubbish he collected over a long period,” relates Nicole Kreis from Orbis Development, which undertook the project’s design. “The neighbours complained about the smell and rats coming from the house and eventually council had him removed, along with several truckloads of the accumulated junk. Prior to the hermit being there the house was used by nurses working at the former St. Margaret’s hospital complex.

“The client’s brief for the project was to transform the old terrace house into a modern, contemporary home using high-quality fixtures and finishes. The clients also wanted to increase the living are by extending the existing space and adding a new level. Light flow was to be maximised through glazing and light shafts. We also wanted to create an inner-city, light-filled garden sanctuary and to include a versatile self-contained garden studio with separate access street.

“The original house was completely gutted and only the front and side boundary walls were kept. The ground floor was extended by eight metres to accommodate a new kitchen and casual living space and to open up the garden. The configuration of the first floor was changed to include a front-facing large master bedroom with an oversized ensuite bathroom attached, as well as a rear-facing bedroom and an additional bathroom.

“The roof space was also utilised and extended by a rear dormer roof extension, which provides an additional bedroom/home office space overlooking the roofs of Sydney. The rear of the 37-metre-long property now contains a versatile studio pavilion with its own bathroom.

“Some of the special design considerations of the project included maximising natural light to flow throughout all levels by installing custom-made floor-to-ceiling steel-framed windows and skylights. This creates a flowing transition, with seamless access from the living area to a sunny timber deck and garden through floor-to-ceiling bi-fold doors. We strove to achieve simple, clean lines and consistent colours to create a calm, tranquil backdrop to the living space.

“The inspiration for the design was the site itself, specifically the orientation as well as integrating the huge gum tree in the back of the property. The clean, simple layout also creates a ‘functioning’ platform for the inhabitants of the space. The design has Swiss and Australian influences; we also found inspiration by inspecting architecturally redesigned terrace houses in the Sydney area.

“My favourite part of the renovated space is the ground floor with its seamless and fluid flow-through lounge, dining and kitchen into the casual living space that connects to the secluded back yard with an outlook to the garden pavilion. If there was anything, in hindsight, that we would do differently, it would be to allow more time for manufacturing and supply of custom-made materials, such as the steel-framed windows.

“This terrace house had two connected adjacent properties and many structural factors had to be considered. An internal frame providing lateral support using steel portals and beams was installed to support the existing walls. Another challenge was the overshadowing and privacy issues with neighbours, which can occur in a dense inner-city living space.

“The challenge was to make as much space available as possible on the long and relatively narrow strip of land. This required a clever layout of the different zones to balance out width and length. There was a lot of positive comment about the light and open feel of the ground floor, the transition of the different living zones, and the clever design of the ensuite bathroom and built-ins.”

Photography by BPM Media Group, ORBIS Development 

Project Particulars:
Designed by:
ORBIS Development
13/722 Bourke Street, Redfern NSW 2016
02 9319 6633

Built by ‘Owner Builder’ Chris Kreis
0400 529 259

Interior Designer: Nicole Kreis

Flooring: Polished grey box timber and wool carpets
Walls: Dulux “Whisper White”
Kitchen: Design: Nicole Kreis, joinery by Carrera by Design, contact: Ron Abdishou, Benchtop: CaesarStone “Osprey”. Cabinetry: Polyurethane in Dulux “Whisper White”, manufactured by Carrera by Design. Rangehood: Miele. Cooktop: Miele
Sanitary fixtures + bathroom fittings: Rogerseller, Kohler, Villeroy & Boch, Caroma
Lighting: Low-voltage downlights, stainless-steel external spotlights, deck lights. Feature light kitchen: Axo “Clavius” from Mondo Luce, Surry Hills, Tel: (02) 9690 2667.
Windows + external doors: Airlite, Windoor, custom-made steel doors

Skylights: Velux
Landscaping: Orbis Development
Decking: Merbau timber hardwood
Front fence, privacy screens: Balau hardwood