A cute Queenslander is extended to fulfil the needs of a growing family — now and in the future
PHOTOGRAPHY Scott Burrows (Aperture Photography)
When a growing Brisbane family made the decision to stay put in their charming suburb, it came time to find a way to make better use of their city views and available space. During the renovation process, the discovery that twins were on the way shifted the original goal and a nursery/study, outdoor kidfriendly area and pool were added to the scope of works.
Claire and Nigel Lappin moved into the pre- 1946 Queenslander in 2000 and were lucky that the house didn’t need any work initially. In time, they wanted to make their mark on it and completed some small superficial renovations, but as their family continued to grow they realised the house would need some changes to better accommodate their future needs and various stages of life. Claire explains, “We’ve tried to make it family-friendly for the different phases we will go through with the kids. That meant multi-purpose undercover areas that could be used in different ways depending on the ages of our children.”
Arkhefield decided the best way to make the home flexible was to exploit the steep slope of the site and create a central platform adjacent to the kitchen where the family can congregate. A new structure was added to the back of the site, which overlooks the original home to the front.
“Play nodes and relaxation points are dotted throughout, all taking in views over the house to the city,” Jemima Rosevear from Arkhefield said, describing the architectural concept behind the project. “A central courtyard bound by the renovated kitchen to one side and a pool on the other separates the old cottage from the new … The existing Queenslander cottage becomes the children’s centre of activity while the new building to the rear provides a retreat for the parents.”
And the concept translates perfectly into reality. Claire talks about her favourite space: “Being at home with our young family, at this point, I would say the pool, deck and kitchen area work so nicely for us. Living in Brisbane, we obviously have weather that works well with outdoor living — we use that area all year round.”
“The central courtyard,” explains Jemima, “allows northern light into the centre of the house and vertically links the key rooms, which is important when supervising four children under four from over three levels.”
Before embarking on the renovation, Clair admits she and Nigel didn’t do as much research as they might have, but luckily things turned out for the best, with the architects exceeding their expectations in every way. “Nigel is quite impulsive, so once we decided we would renovate we found [Arkhefield] quite quickly and everything started to happen.” They discovered Arkhefield while browsing Brisbane architects on the internet and, after meeting up with the design team, the Lappins knew they would work well together. They reviewed much of Arkhefield’s work and felt the firm’s style reflected their own.
Dramatic embellishments, such as the timber panelling on the facade and eccentric mosaic tiling of the bathroom were signature to the architect’s look — and features that really appealed to Claire and Nigel from the outset. “At times I thought they may have been too different or dramatic; however, there was a reason we employed them for the project and that was because we had loved the effects they had achieved on other projects, so we usually gave them the freedom to go ahead.”
This trust between client and architect is one of the most vital aspects of a renovation to get right. And it is, of course, important to, at times, remind yourself that the architect is the professional and can assist you in pushing your comfort levels to get a striking result. It is equally rewarding for an architect when they get the relationship right. Arkhefield described the Lappins as “confident clients with a clear brief and a willingness to work together in exploring new ideas”. The results speak for themselves.
Careful reflection and looking at your longerterm needs mean a project can continue to evolve. Be realistic and pre-empt the changing relational needs of your family. Arkhefield explains how that translates to this project. “The use of deep spaces, vertical connection/separation and multiple entry option allows varying levels of both independence and surveillance, privacy and interaction.” In short, “The house has the ability to grow with the clients.”
Advice from the homeowner
I think the most important thing on a major renovation is to find the architect who best fits your style or whose work you have seen and love, so that you know together you can create something special. You do end up spending a lot of time with the architects and builders, so do your research.
• PROGRAM: Nigel and Claire needed to live in the house during construction, so sequencing of the demolition and reinstatement of both the kitchen and laundry were pivotal.
• ACCESS: The site rises 13 metres from street level to the rear boundary. This, combined with site access being limited to a 1.8-metre-wide band to one side of the house, dictated the choice of machinery, construction methods and sequencing.
• HERITAGE: The existing house is a pre-1946 Queenslander located in a character-filled residential area. The question of how to acknowledge and embrace the past yet provide a sympathetic modern solution was a prominent consideration.
• BUILDING SETBACKS: The tight setback constraints of the site manifest themselves in the angular wall and roof planes of the new extension.
This project was designed by
418 Adelaide Street, Brisbane Qld 4000
Tel 07 3831 8150
This project was built by
Tel 0412 397 012
Cost Approximately $2400/m2
New kitchen: Abet Laminati floating floor to match existing
Existing dining + living: Existing Abet Laminati floating floor
New lounge: Polished concrete
New main bedroom: Tasmanian oak engineered flooring (timber)
Stair: Tasmanian oak (timber) Outdoor: Tallow-wood (decking)
Bathroom: Mosaic floor tiles from Academy Tiles
New walls: Plasterboard, painted Existing dining + living: Exisiting VJ walls, painted
Exterior: Shadow-clad, painted black
Courtyard: Ceramic tiling by Salvatore Ceramics
Benchtop: White Corian
Splashback: Red Colourback glass
Cabinetry: White two-pack, Tasmanian oak (joinery design by Arkhefield)
Other: Miele appliances and Hafele hardware
Sanitary fixtures + bathroom fittings
Basin: Roger Seller
Towel rails: Designed by Arkhefield
Internal + external design: Arkhefield, fittings from Beacon Lighting and IKEA and LED (inground uplights)
Windows + external doors
Rosewood timber doors by Allkind Joinery Louvres by Breezeway Coloured polycarbonate by Danpalon Outdoor Outdoor built-in furniture by Arkhefield Pool and hard landscape designed by Arkhefiel