Reinventing the Queenslander

Reinventing the Queenslander


by Danielle Townsend  

An original Queenslander cottage was updated in a contemporary way and now allows a grown family to live in harmony.

home renovations 

The distinctive Queenslander style of housing from the previous two centuries is magnificent, steeped in history and designed especially to suit the warm Queensland climate. However, as time has marched on, this Queenslander-style cottage was in need of a facelift and a redesign to accommodate the changing needs of the family who resided in it. Given the character and history of these homes, a fitting tribute that acknowledged its past had to be created. 

“The existing house is a traditional Queenslander located in a character-filled residential area. The question of how to consider and respect the building’s heritage while still providing a modern addition was explored,” says architect Jemima Rosevear of Brisbane architects, Arkhefield. Clients Janet and Harry provided their brief to Jemima: to retain the existing cottage and its historic character, raise it and extend it towards the rear of the block. They were also particular in their requirement to live independently in the cottage on the upper floor while their adult children lived in a self-contained set-up on the lower floor. 

The original cottage was lifted to create a full storey underneath and reconfigured to create a dining room, sleek white kitchen, study, bedroom and powder room. Then, the back of the cottage was extended to accommodate an inviting new living/entertainment area, master bedroom with ensuite and outdoor living area to take advantage of the sunshine state’s superb weather conditions. “My favourite part of the renovation is the opening up of the rear of the cottage to the north. This allows light, air and distant views into an otherwise deep and internalised space, which is typically found in Queenslander cottages. Generous overhangs over the outdoor deck also ensure that the house can remain open to Brisbane’s subtropical climate for most of the year,” says Jemima. 

Downstairs, a new double garage was created, along with two extra bedrooms, laundry, bathroom, powder room and covered outdoor area. Raising the house meant the original sleepout of the Queenslander cottage needed to be trimmed down to comply with setbacks. This provided the opportunity to explore this narrow space as the circulation spine that connected the two floors. The construction of this spine element references traditional cottage construction through an exposed timber frame. The use of polycarbonate walls animates and accentuates this space, giving a sophisticated lantern-like effect at night. “The opportunities born out of the integration of old and new proved inspiring for this design. Externally, the junction is bridged by the new lantern-like structure of the stairwell.

Internally, the intersection of old and new is celebrated by a change in floor levels and ceiling proportion, yet reads as a seamless whole through a consistent palette of materials and colour. New joinery, windows and operable walls also help tie the two halves together,” says Jemima. While many may think a home where parents and their adult children can live harmoniously together may be nearly impossible to achieve, here it has been done exceedingly well. “The ability to accommodate an additional number of people under the one roof, while still allowing the individuals both privacy and independence, is this home’s true success,” Jemima explains.

“The clever use of zoning, vertical separation, circulation and multiple entry options makes this house an ideal model for those with a large number of adult occupants; both visiting and permanent.”

Photography by Scott Burrows, Aperture Photography 

Project Particulars:
Designed by: Jemima Rosevear of Arkhefield
418 Adelaide Street, Brisbane Qld 4000
07 3831 8150

Built by:
Bev Jenner Constructions
07 3369 0500

Kitchen: Existing timber Dining + living: Spotted gum, stained walnut
Bedroom: Carpet by Tuftmaster
Stair: Solid New Guinea rosewood stained with Sikkens Walnut
Outdoor: Polished concrete 10mm Charcoal aggregate finish, exposed aggregate concrete 10mm Charcoal aggregate (driveway), existing timber decking

Kitchen + dining: Existing VJ walls painted Dulux Lexicon half-strength
Living (upstairs + downstairs): Plasterboard painted Lexicon half-strength
New bedrooms: Plasterboard painted Dulux Lexicon half-strength
Stair: Danpalon 10mm thick, core flute polycarbonate sheet with clear anodised proprietary cover strips, colour Ice
Outdoor: Dulux Lexicon half-strength lowsheen (main walls) plus Dulux Luck for trims

Benchtop: Corian Glacier White (island bench), 1mm stainless steel in brushed finish (near hotplates)
Splashback: White on Starphire (low iron) glass and acid-etched glazing to face stairwell
Cabinetry: Two-pack paint finish in Dulux Lexicon half-strength (75 per cent gloss)

WCs + basins: Caroma
Tapware: Zucchetti and Rogerseller
Bath: Stylus
Tiles: 100×200 White gloss wall tile from Salvatore Ceramics


Windows + external doors:
Custom made