A Sydney home pushes traditional and contemporary designs to the limit, giving its owners the best of both worlds
Having lived in a quaint bungalow in greater Sydney for many years and developed strong family ties to the area, the owners were eager to turn their home into an empty nester’s dream after all but one of their four children had moved out. Despite its solid structure and wonderful period features, the cozy brick house remained stuck in the past, with a tiny kitchen and a living room disconnected from the landscape.
The couple had big dreams for creating an exciting forever home, so they searched for an architecture firm that would push the boundaries of contemporary design yet retain the beauty of the traditional architecture. Danny Broe delivered on their vision. “[Besides] an open kitchen, dining and living space, the couple’s wish list included a large train room for [the owner’s] state-of-the-art train set, so we knew from the start this was going to be an unconventional renovation,” Broe says.
Who lives here: A train engineer, his designer wife and one of their four children
Location: North Epping area of Sydney
Size: 2,465 square feet (229 square meters); four bedrooms, two bathrooms
Architect: Danny Broe ArchitectFrom the outset, the couple was open-minded and shared the architect’s vision of adding a contemporary addition at the back of the house, rather than mimicking the 1940s construction of their bungalow. “We took this opportunity to do something exciting but also practical, so we separated the old house and new addition with a space and connected them with a glass bridge. The approach was to push the style of each part to its extreme,” Broe says.
The white cubelike addition at the rear strikes a bold sculptural tone yet is covered with sustainable wood to tie in with the neighborhood. The site slopes slightly from front to back, which allowed the addition to have a split-level arrangement.
The floor level drops to the garden level, creating the connection to the outside. Meanwhile, ascending a half-flight of stairs takes you to the train room that floats above. “To add to the sculptural nature of the addition, the outdoor terrace is carved out of the extension and is a recessive space instead of an add-on,” Broe says.
The state of New South Wales fast-tracked its approval for the monochromatic exterior palette. “The design and approval process went very smoothly, allowing us and the client to choose the colors we wanted, rather than adhering to council-preferred earthy tones,” Broe says.
Shorebuild, the builder, then created aluminum awnings over the west-facing windows, enhancing the sleek contemporary appearance of the addition.
Large sliding doors give a wonderful view of the terrace from the dining zone, while a pendant light hangs from a lower part of the ceiling to illuminate the dining spot.
The floor is polished concrete with a burnished finish, resulting in a soft gray look.
The kitchen is next to the dining and living areas. Wood veneer teams with a Piatra Gray Caesarstone countertop to complement the gray concrete floor and the buttery-yellow stone wall. A peninsula offers a generous work surface for serving and entertaining in the social living space yet ensures that the cooking zone is clearly defined by the U-shaped layout.
Appliances: Miele; faucet: Franke; range hood: Qasair
One of the biggest challenges for the build team was constructing the innovative and structurally adventurous staircase. “There are very few vertical supports to the handrail as it zigzags up and down. It’s almost like a musical instrument,” Broe says. “The stainless steel wires are in tension and, as a result, put a lot of pressure on the structure. We had to work closely with the engineer, builder, steel fabricator and code certifier to achieve an edgy but safe structure.”
The lower treads of the staircase are off-form concrete, creating a sculptural finish in themselves.
After crossing the glass bridge, you enter the old part of the house, where the piano room and the study sit, separated by sliding doors.
The original features, including the wood floor, were renovated where possible.
The rustic sandstone wall repeats in the new bathroom to create a textured contrast against the dark porcelain tiles, while the slim shower screen adds a sleek contemporary note.
Tiles: Bisanna Tiles