Grand dame

Grand dame


by Danielle Townsend

A careful restoration links this heritage-listed property with the past and also takes it firmly into the future.

This well-maintained two-storey English cottage-style home was originally built between 1910 and 1920 and, at the time, was a very grand home in a prestigious area. However, the ways in which families live can change in the blink of an eye. Fast forward to around a century later and the home was showing its age — there was considerable work to be done to make it work well in this century.

The rear of the property was where problems existed as the home did not connect to the generous rear yard or small existing pool area. While magnificent views of this leafy Sydney suburb were plentiful, they were unable to be enjoyed; unfortunately, the existing rear decks were very narrow and in considerable need of repair, and the bedrooms also offered no outlook to the views.

“The clients wanted to access and use the many wasted or unused areas of the house,” said director of NKT Architecture, Nicolas Tedesco. “We were asked to add a number of rooms, such as a home office and art studio, and to connect the home to the rear yard and pool. Also, we had to create more off-street parking and increase privacy from the street without compromising the integrity of the existing heritage-listed dwelling.”

The creation of two new lower levels involved cutting into the natural sandstone ridge the house was perched on in a process that required significant structural and geotechnical input.

“We had to consider the home’s heritage listing and the fragile nature of the existing dwelling, particularly given that half of the project was below the existing dwelling. This created challenging geotechnical, underpinning and structural scenarios that the team handled successfully,” said Nicolas.

“The geotechnical challenges of cutting into sandstone vertically and the underpinning of the existing fragile footings of the heritage-listed dwelling were great. If it wasn’t for the expert knowledge of the building team, the result may have been less than satisfactory. The builder (Probuild) is to be highly commended for this.”

NKT Architecture’s main design approach was to create a “base” to the rear, enabling the back of the house to visually anchor to the site. This enabled the upper levels to be extended out without structural or visual conflict or limitation. A podium approach was ultimately adopted, using sandstone for visual enhancement.

The existing lower and ground levels were extended back into the rear yard, opening out into the pool and new spa area, with frameless glass for both safety and unspoilt views.

“The home office was located at the lowest level, allowing it to connect directly to the existing mature rear garden and yard; my favourite space,” said Nicolas.

A significant design feature that can be seen from the rear of the property is the challenging nine-metre-wide timber bifold rear doors that stretch across the length of the generously sized dining area. The doors open the space to the outdoors, allowing not only breezes but a connection to the rear of the property so the leafy, peaceful surroundings can be enjoyed when entertaining.

Heading upstairs, the upper bedroom level was modified to include an ensuite for each bedroom, while a new ensuite to the groundfloor main bedroom was also created, a necessity for today’s families.

Every remaining space of the house, including the attic area, was then renovated and each level joined by the existing staircase, which winds its way through the home. New sections of the staircase used maple balustrades, which were stained and finished to match the existing stair.

Other parts of the existing dwelling were also retained, such as timber flooring to the kitchen, dining/living area, bedrooms and stairs. When required, the builders sourced suitable matches to ensure the old and the new blended seamlessly.

While merging the design of the early 20th century with that of the new millennium did have its challenges, the project is a success story in blending old with new; a credit to all involved.

“My favourite part of the renovated space is the many and varied vignettes that were created throughout the project. Each space has its own dynamic, based on its location, use and treatment, right down to the view of the rear yard one has when leaving the pedestrian path behind the garage/carport. Every space has something to offer,” said Nicolas.

“Our inspiration was the site, the existing house and the clients. The confidence they conveyed in our office inspired us to push on despite the many challenges and enthused us to create the many ideas (some crazier than others) for their consideration. It was the team approach to design that sifted out the less positive ideas to create the robust, solemn, dignified and stylish result that exists today.

“It’s a very special project because of the way in which all parties, client, builder, architects and consultants, came together. To achieve such an ambitious domestic project is something we at NKT are most proud of; that, and the architecture itself, of course!”

Photography by Rowan Turner

Project particulars:
Designed by:
NKT Architecture Pty LtdPO Box 675, Castle Hill NSW 1765
02 9899 2438

Built by:
Probuild (NSW) Pty Ltd
02 8811 3500

Pool renovation and new spa: Wright Pools

Kitchen: Mostly existing tallow-wood narrow format boards. The challenge was sourcing a suitable match, which the builders achieved
Dining + living: Existing jarrah
Bedrooms: Existing
Stair: Existing (new sections used maple balustrades stained and finished to match existing)
Outdoor: Travertine-style porcelain (vitrified) tiles

Internal: Wattyl Geisha White body colour throughout with Wattyl Whisper White subtle highlights to doors, skirting and architraves, timberwork to match existing, heritage timberwork renovated to match existing
External: Murobond Ash
Sandstone: Gosford Quarries Mt White White

Benchtop: 20mm CaesarStone Snow (Linen for other joinery)
Splashback: White Colourback glass
Cabinetry: Flat panel polyurethane
Kitchen designed + built by: Dan Kitchens Australia
Sanitary fixtures + bathroom fittings Mostly Villeroy & Boch
Main bedroom ensuite: Dan Kitchens Australia
All other joinery: Carrera by Design

Mostly dimmable downlights strategically positioned for maximum effect

Windows + external doors:
All timber windows and doors by Canterbury Windows and Doors including the nine-metrewide timber bifold doors, meranti frames with double glazing to the northern face

Existing restoration by Probuild, fireplace by Jetmaster, new gas fireplace by Real Flame, which included an awkward horizontal mechanical exhaust system

Mitsubishi VRF system by J&J Metro West, adopted and created with the assistance of J&J Metro West due to the less intrusive nature of the system, thus minimising impact to the existing dwelling and allowing the system to manoeuvre around the many structural barriers

Intercom system:
Actel Security

Gutters: Smartflo with Colorbond Woodland Grey finish
Fascias: Equal to Colorbond Surfmist
Eaves soffit: Wattyl Whistler White
External tiles: Travertine-style porcelain from Terranova Tiles, Willoughby
Privacy screens: Adjustable louvres and fixed privacy screens by BPM Industries
Pool renovation and new spa: Wright Pools