A Neglected Bungalow Transformed To Bring The Outdoors In

It was, as they say, the worst house on the best street. Years of neglect had made this century-old California bungalow barely habitable, and its reputation was equally in tatters.

But after a young family took over the Brunswick West property and engaged the team at Architektura to completely repair, update and improve the home by stripping it back to foundations, the old home has been transformed it into a contemporary dwelling that — for the first time in years — adds to the street’s value.

‘The site was overgrown with weeds and collapsing fences, the rear was almost completely concrete and a tree was growing through the rear stairs,’ Architektura design director Aiste Strazdaite says. ‘Bright red tiles and palm prints to the bathrooms and tonal yellow walls with holes, cracks, patches and crumbling plaster throughout were the starting blocks.’

But she explains that the structure was solid and the home’s hardwood frame had endured the test of time. It also came with existing period elements like the front leadlight windows which were saved, rebuilt and reinstalled to bring the weatherboard facade back to its original glory.

Across 12 months, the Architektura team worked to reimagine the home whilst celebrating its history and reinstating as much of the existing structure as possible. The brief was ‘respectful modernity’ — think modern flourishes to enhance period features.

Aiste says, ‘from the street the project presents as a renovated period dwelling.’

However a closer inspection reveals gentle suggestions of the modern renovation approach — from the custom spotted gum pivot door, deck and porch soffit, to the textural tiling supporting the original columns at the facade.

Another key aspect of the revamp was to bring the outside nature in. Architektura worked to complement the once dense northern row of pine trees by creating a cosy family home reminiscent of a cabin in the woods, thanks to materials such as charred timber cladding and warm ash timber windows.

Directly below the pines, they built integrated seating with firewood storage space for cosy winter nights. But Aiste says this area is also her clients’ dining space of choice in summer, as it remains cool even on hot days.

‘The home feels and functions larger than its footprint with multiple spaces of work, play and dwell, and with softer thresholds, the outside becomes in,’ she adds. ‘In warmer weather the home is opened right up and the deck and outside become part of the living room.’

Gone are the days where the property was an eyesore for families passing by the south cobblestone laneway — now, an inviting and elegant structure stands in its place, one that can be appreciated for decades to come.

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