A humble beach cottage is transformed into a modern family house, making the most of its seaside setting
Reflecting on the aspects that transformed this humble beachside cottage into a functional contemporary home, Erik Rudolfsson notes that, “Originally, the front of the house had the floorboards polished and it was repainted. In other words, it was liveable. However, the back of the house, with the traditional added outbuildings (with bathroom and kitchen and external laundry), were less attractive and in fairly bad condition. The whole house, especially living and kitchen areas, lacked connection to the rear yard and despite three sides of windows and doors, the house was dark. There was a lack of amenities as the bathroom and kitchen were last updated in the 1970s.
“The initial design was done for clients who decided to sell the house after DA approval had been obtained. The new owners contacted me two years after the initial work and the design was partially modified to suite their particular needs and wishes. The clients are a couple with two teenage children. Loving the beach and working in the city, they wanted to downsize from a large house on the lower North Shore.
“The functional requirements of the house needed three bedrooms, a study (that could double as a guest room), two bathrooms, laundry, large living and kitchen/dining, outdoor areas with barbecue, as well as a covered external sleeping area for three dogs, a tropical saltwater fish tank and an external shower, as the beach is only one block away.
“Only the existing walls of the two front bedrooms and corridor, and boundary party wall to adjacent semi were kept. All other items, including ceilings and roofs, were demolished to allow for a new configuration/layout and lower ceilings to fit a new second level into the heritage-protected building envelope. The new extension and rear living pavilion are constructed of cavity brick walls on concrete slab. The first-floor terrace and planters are also in concrete to ensure there will not be any future leaks due to movements in structure (also better thermally). The roofs and dormers are framed in timber and steel and covered metal deck.
“The main design consideration of the project was that the original semi is only one street away from the beach and the street is very busy, especially during the summer months, with beach goers and tourists. It is in a heritage conservation area and this was strictly adhered to, as since the ‘60s, most other houses in the street have been demolished for large apartment buildings. The proximity to the beach, the cooling breezes, sun orientation (in addition to council’s heritage concerns, setback and height restrictions) set up the shape and form of the house.
“Some of the design ideas were inspired by a stone ridge that rises out of the former sand dunes, two streets behind the subject site, that has views of the beach and the subject house. We therefore felt the roof elevations were very important for the project, as the roof planes are highly visible. These roof shapes also had other advantages. The rear roof could be lifted and tilted on one side (without affecting the adjacent property with regards to overshadowing or scale) to allow more light and sun into the building and to create a dramatic internal ceiling. The front dormer extensions are staggered and broken up to create long strip windows to the ensuite and study — again to allow light and sun into the rooms, but restrict viewing from the adjacent property and garden.
“The practical design requirements included maximising the size of the small block (6m x 30m) and providing three bedrooms, a study, two bathrooms, laundry, large open living and kitchen/dining, plus a three-dog sleeping area. The design also had to allow ocean glimpses. By adding a central courtyard, in addition to the rear yard, the house was broken into three parts: front sleeping; rear living; and upstairs parents’ retreat (bed, ensuite and study/sitting), as well as allowing ample light and sun to enter the living areas. This also allows the living spaces (kitchen/dining and living) to be opened up fully to these courts and borrow (visual and real) space from these areas when required. A first-floor terrace was also constructed off the study/sitting space to allow more outdoor areas, and allow views into rear garden and living space.
“To further mix the inside/outside feel of the house, the tropical saltwater, cantilevered fish tank was built between the dining/entry and the central courtyard to make a special feature in the house, to make a new entry more centrally positioned and thus closer to the rear living part (the old front entry door remains and in the future can be used for a self-contained office, for example). As the kitchen needed to borrow space from the dining joinery (for fridges and storage), we wanted all joinery to match — kitchen, living room and stair storage joinery.
“The kitchen proper is 6.4m with an additional 4m in the living room. In line with this, the external barbecue (and dog sleeping area) continues another 5m along the southern boundary fence. This outside area also uses the same materials as the kitchen and living areas. With the otherwise very simple palette of materials (all natural and durable) — travertine stone floors, Stone Italiana Satin Winter White benchtop and splashbacks, and rendered walls in Dulux Whisper White and Colorbond Ghost Gum — blackbutt plywood doors and drawers were chosen as a warm and natural contrast and as a very hardy material. There is no edge stripping to the joinery and thus the possibility of dislodged veneer edges is avoided (this happens sometimes even on very expensive furniture). The edges are only seen when doors are in open position, as the permanent visible corners are mitred.
“Over the dining room table are two minimal pendant lights, used to ‘anchor’ the dining table in the room as well as providing light. If, in the future, the clients require more bench and storage space, a combined island bench and dining table have already been designed and water and electricity put in position and capped under the stone tiles. The clients did not want to part with their existing recycled timber table and have not yet found that additional workspace is required.
“The clients wanted a light-filled, simple, uncluttered and easily maintained bathroom. The long strip lights in the roof shape and skylight over the shower make the ensuite very bright — almost like being outside. No shower screen doors were used, only fixed frameless glass panels where required to minimise cleaning and make the rooms feel as large as possible. Large tiles were selected so we used long stainless-steel strip drains to avoid cutting tiles for falls.
“My favourite part of the renovated space is the roof/ceiling of the living room, the way the roof twists to allow light to enter into the room through the clerestory window. There is a visual connection from the first-level study/sitting and first-floor terrace through this window into the living room and rear courtyard. The cantilevered inside-outside tropical saltwater fish tank is also an amazing feature, dividing the entry, dining and central courtyard.”
COMPANY NAME: Erik Rudolfsson Architecture
ADDRESS: 111 Stanley Street, East Sydney NSW 2010
PHONE: 02 9331 1539
MOBILE: 0425 22 1277
The project was built by:
BUILDER: Matrix Additions
PHONE: 0414 608 195
LICENCE NUMBER: 104225C
The project was photographed by:
PHOTOGRAPHER: Brett Boardman
PHONE: (0418) 210 943
FAX: (02) 9516 1656
FLOORING: Kitchen: 600 x 600 Travertine stone tiles on concrete floor (inside and outside). Bathrooms: 600 x 600 Travertine stone tiles on concrete floor (inside and outside). New first-floor rooms: Blackbutt. Stair: 50mm thick blackbutt. Outdoor: 600 x 600 Travertine stone tiles on concrete floor (inside and outside)
WALLS: All internal walls: Rendered walls in Dulux Whisper White & Murobond Cement Paint Ghost Gum
OUTDOOR: Murobond Cement Paint in Ghost Gum and Bluescope corrugated metal deck in Windspray
OTHER: White ceramic tiles for bathrooms
ENTRY DOOR: Doors and windows from Airlite Windows Pty Ltd
DOORS/WINDOWS: Western red cedar doors with inserted frameless double hung windows from Anneta Window Systems
KITCHEN: Benchtop: Stone Italiana Satin Winter White. Splashback: Stone Italiana Satin Winter White. Cabinetry: Polished blackbutt veneered plywood with exposed edges, Blum and Hafele hardware and Madinoz handles. Appliances (from Designer Warehouse Camperdown): Sink – Franke. Oven – AEG. Cooktop & rangehood — Electrolux Gallery. Dishwasher – ASKO. Fridge and under-bench fridge and under-bench freezer – Leibherr.
SANITARY FIXTURES + BATHROOM FITTINGS: Sanitary ware (from the Bathhouse Sydney). WC: Villeroy and Boch Subway toilet and bidet with Valsir cisterns and flush buttons. Basin: Duravit Foster. Tapware: Hansa mixers, Hansgrohe hand showers and rails. Heated towel rails: Hydrotherm heated towel rails
LIGHTING: Meals & Hallway: Recessed low voltage generally
OUTDOOR: Landscaping, decking, shading or paving details: blackbutt pergolas (some with metal deck roofing). External tiling matches internal tiles
FISH TANK: Effortless Aquaria
TV AND MUSIC: Datcom + Double Bay
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: ACOR Consultants Crows Nest
JOINERY MANUFACTURER/INSTALLER: Woodwork by Hiro
SECURITY ALARM: Geecomm Services
SECURITY SCREENS: Kings Security Waterloo
AIR CONDITIONING: Sun Heating 02 9450 2565.