Spatial Experience

Spatial Experience


This historical cottage now features a centre courtyard that the owners have simply fallen in love with

Built around the turn of the 20th century, this delightful cottage had been subject to indifferent renovations in more recent years. Approaching architect Tricia Helyar, the owners asked her to restore the natural beauty of their property while incorporating a few contemporary luxuries.

Typically seen in buildings of this time, the original floorplan featured a central corridor with rooms to each side as well as front and back verandahs. A number of renovations had been made that were detrimental to the heritage significance of the dwelling and the central corridor had been completely removed.

“The concept for this design was to split the building into two parts,” explains Helyar. “At street level is the original humble cottage, stripped of the previous unsympathetic alterations.

“Set back from the existing building is a second structure with the same proportions but slightly smaller in size. Between the two is an amazing courtyard that has been successfully designed to fill both sides of the home with natural light.”

Previously the dwelling had a small patio area at the rear, constructed from sandstone. When renovating, the owners found sandstone under the earth that may have been cast-offs the original builders threw into the backyard when building the patio. This enabled the courtyard to be assembled from existing materials to ensure the new space blended beautifully with the original aspects of the design.

Externally the detailing is as close to the original cottage as possible. Concrete tiles were removed from the roof and replaced with more traditional iron roofing. Stripped of the faux lace ironwork and window shutters, the front façade retained the original sandstone sills and referenced them in the new detailing.

“While looking similar externally, there is a completely different internal spatial experience,” explains Helyar. “The main room is a large open-plan kitchen and family area with the ceiling lined on the rake. Visual links have been included to the enclosed courtyard and rear garden.”

The original two bedrooms of the old cottage were kept in the design with the extension comprising mainly the kitchen, dining and living rooms. Doors and hallways have been widened and the main bathroom is extremely generous in size creating a feeling of abundant space.

Helyar has designed the home using principle elements of environmental design. As the block faces north, the break between the two elements allows for winter solar penetration for the full depth of the family living zone. A panel for solar heating of the hot water system is hidden from view on the second half of the building and the building has also been insulated.

Inside the interior of the home is extremely welcoming. Warm tones from the timber floors and kitchen cabinetry blend delightfully with the softer shades of the Magnolia coloured paintwork throughout. Lighting is a definite feature of the home with a selection of downlights, sconces and pendants adding a modern touch to the design.

Helyar is not the only one pleased with the successful outcome as the owner is completely overjoyed with her new space.

“My favourite area is the internal courtyard that has been incorporated into the middle of the home,” she says. “The way the two areas connect flows beautifully for both living and entertaining. I really feel that Tricia not only understood what we wanted and delivered it, but she also did a fantastic job.”

The project was designed by Tricia Helyar of Tricia Helyar Architect, 16 Fowler Street, Leichhardt, NSW
Phone: 02 9560 5058; email: or go to The project was built by Goanna Constructions Pty Ltd
Phone: 0418 489 017

Kitchen, dining, living and bedroom: timber
Outdoor: flagstone paving
Study: original floor preserved

Indoors: cavity brickwork and painted in Dulux Magnolia

Benchtop: Corian, colour Savanah
Splashback: Starphire glass in Vanilla
Cabinetry: Tasmanian blackwood

Main: halogen downlights
Feature lighting: pendant lights, sconces

Sandstone courtyard, landscaping

”The concept for this design was to split the building into two parts. At street level is the original humble cottage, stripped of the previous unsympathetic alterations” — architect Tricia Helyar.