The Butterfly Emerges

The Butterfly Emerges


home renovations

A circa 1920s weatherboard home in Western Australia opens up to let in light and life

Photography Adrian Lambert, Acorn Photo Agency

The young couple who own this Cargill Street property in Victoria Park saw great potential in their pokey little weatherboard home. Their brief to the architect was relatively simple: to add light and space, specifically in a north-east-facing openplan living space. Once a series of dark corridors and impractical rooms, this home has been sensitively yet dramatically transformed in a manner that Fringe Architects considers to be more adaptive re-use than restoration.

According to Andrew Hagemann of Fringe, they needed to “somehow liberate the (development) constraints by realising new space. The new spaces as a result are distinctly different and the overall feel was one of grafting the new spaces into the old structure.” Situated in the historic Raphael Weatherboard District, both owner and architect were bound by controls that related to materials, shapes, styles and scale — even roof pitch. And although these controls are in place for good reason, there were some areas that were given lenience, such as the use of rendered masonry to the rear wall.

Traditional lapped weatherboards were applied to the front façade and a fresh colour palette was applied to offer the home a more contemporary edge. The roofline was replicated and brought forward to provide a carport out front and the verandah became a welcoming place to sit and watch the world go by, rather than yet another thoroughfare. The little window and front door that originally met the world with trepidation have been opened up significantly, allowing the extension of the home out towards the new manicured entry garden, a space that is best used in winter to capture the long warm rays of sunshine.

The front door is a vast, pivoting plane of frosted glass with an aluminium frame that spans the entire width of the entry hall. This is the first instance where you notice the increase in light — and a welcome feeling of space. The widening of the door and extension of window above to the ceiling line seems simple, but its effect is profound. Passing along the hall, the neutral colour palette is punctuated by a vivid red patch of wall that hosts a narrow and simple table and a contemporary aboriginal artwork. This bold use of such a deep colour is the only hint at the colourfully, patchworked house that stood before.

The house opens into a double height at the end of the hall. The kitchen, dining and living area wrap in an L-shape across the back of the house and irregular ceiling heights join in a series of narrow and angular windows. It is these shafts of light, from between the ceiling and walls, that change the feel of the space so vastly. Two walls of glass concertina back to let more air and light in — and for life to continue out onto the summer deck. The second, multi-purpose bedroom also has an ensuite, providing a guest facility for friends or family. The result is a layering of ideas, an integration of the contemporary new elements into the historical architecture.

The interpretation of the original lean-to is fresh and accurately delivers the important values — light and space. The clients’ house, described once by the architects as “dingy and impermeable”, promptly became the home of their dreams. Yet the most beautiful aspects are hard to pinpoint for Andrew. “It’s the spaces between walls and materials and furniture that make the thing work — the space, the air, the light, the ambience — the transient things that make a space enjoyable. We aim for that in all our work — the indefinable qualities.” r&e

Project Particulars

The project was designed by FRINGE ARCHITECTS 110 Alfred Road, Claremont WA Tel: 08 9384 3491 Email: Web:

This project was built by Cardinal Construction

The interiors were designed by Fringe Architects and Aileen Angus


Interior: Dulux to plasterboard internally

Outdoor: Traditional lapped weatherboards to front of cottage, rendered brickwork to the rear extension


Benchtop: EssaStone in Pearl Fondant and Sable Luxe

Splashback: Glass splashback

Cabinetry: Laminex finish to overhead cupboards, 2-pac polyurethane satin finish to underbench cupboards

Other: Miele and Smeg appliances

Sanitary fixtures + bathroom fittings:



Mondoluce general internal and external lighting. Feature David Knott Lotus pendant over dining

Windows + external doors:

Commercial 100x44mm aluminium glazing — Dulux Precious Silver Pearl powdercoat with Viridian Comfort Plus Clear Low-E glazing


Timber decking, rear Issey Daakota awning, paving Blockpave stonewash collection