Sometimes a home just needs the right owner to reawaken its inner beauty. That was the case with this gracious family abode on Sydney’s north shore.
Drawn to its location on a quiet, tree-lined street, architect Nerida and her husband James purchased the Californian bungalow with initial plans to replace it with a contemporary home for themselves and their sons Hugo, now 16, and Ethan, now 14.
“It was a really confusing house,” recalls Nerida. “There was no central corridor and no airflow. You had to go through one room to get to another – for example, to get to one bedroom, you had to go through the kitchen.
That’s why, when I first saw it, I instinctively thought, ‘We’ve got to demolish this house and just start again.'” Instead, the home began to cast its spell on the family.
“The more we lived here, the more we fell in love with the windows, the detailing, the double-brick walls and the soul of the house,”says Nerida.
After four years, she came up with a vision to re-work the floor plan and retain the heritage elements they had come to love. “I really wanted to pay homage to the original cottage and the streetscape,” she says.
Built in 1916, amid a time of austerity measures because of World War I, the home has the pared-back elements that set the Californian bungalow apart from its Victorian-era predecessor.
“That’s what I liked about it – that kind of pureness of design,” says Nerida. “There wasn’t too much busyness or too much fussiness.”
The layout was a different story. “I decided to move the entry to the front and keep it all looking as traditional as possible,” says Nerida, whose redesign of the floor plan created a new front door and a huge entry foyer and portico to replace the old side entrance.
It worked. Council approved it in an incredibly short six weeks and loved that they were reviving the old house and keeping the heritage of the area.
Doing such a traditional entry was a new experience, because often I like extensions to have a contemporary feel,” says Nerida, referencing the second-storey addition that allowed for a main suite, kids’ study and family bathroom.” However, with this project, it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
The result is an elegant home that sits nicely in the neighbourhood, as if it has always been there.” People walk by and say they wouldn’t know it’s a new house,” says Nerida. “I consider that a compliment.”
“The master bedroom is so tranquil when we wake up. It’s the calming blue tones and tree-filled view of the backyard.” ~ Nerida
Lynne Testoni is a writer, editor and content creator in the food and design space. With a background in interior magazines, she has worked on more than 20 titles including Home Beautiful and Better Homes & Gardens. She lives in a Victorian Italianate terrace in inner city Sydney that is constantly being renovated and restyled.