The Kensington House was tired, had little connection to an oversized backyard, and not enough space within its walls to contain a dynamic young family.
Its owners, however, had a clear aim and design in mind, and called in B2 Construction Pty Ltd and Jessica Matson Architecture to extend and update their home to make it more inviting and spacious. This involved lowering the rear of the house to create a highly sought after indoor/outdoor flow while still allowing the rooms to maintain separate functions.
With brief in hand, architect Jessica Matson designed and drew up the plans for the renovations and expansions. Owner of B2 Construction, Brendon Bott, undertook the main construction work.
“The family loves to entertain and are very family-focused. They wanted a space that would allow them to have friends and family in their home for both short visits and lengthy stays with everyone having enough space to be comfortable,” says Bott, who adds that the alterations were specifically tailored to meet the needs of the owners.
And comfortable it is. Enter the house and you are immediately welcomed by the airy living areas. At your feet runs wide board Blackbutt with a Turkish Coffee stain that seamlessly blends with the original boards in front of the house, creating a feeling of cohesiveness and warmth. The walls, covered with neutral eco-friendly paints by Porters Paints and Murobond, have a calming effect on the rooms.
In order to achieve the relaxed, modern outcome they were after, the owners were proactive throughout the design process, playing a part in deciding the selection of finishes.
In the living room, a Jetmaster fireplace takes centre stage, flanked by large timber windows showcasing the massive Jacaranda tree in the backyard. The new kitchen is family-friendly, with Caesarstone benchtops in Raven with a mirrored splashback and fully optimised polyurethane cabinetry, and a chef style Ilve freestanding oven and cooktop.
The large-scale renovations also included the construction of three bathrooms, all of which feature small glass mosaics in the owner’s favourite shade of green, Villeroy & Boch toilets, frameless glass shower screens and stainless steel fixtures.
A second storey – a parents zone – was also added to the building and clad in ShadowClad by Carter Holt Harvey. Vertically installed, this charcoal weatherboard is of a lightweight material, making it appropriate for an upper level and enabling the simplification of structural requirements.
At the same time, Matson notes that the materials, such as the Australian hardwoods used throughout the interior and exterior, were picked for their practical appeal. For instance, the lime green timber window frames were “chosen because they stand out against the dark cladding and have low maintenance requirements. The Blackbutt floorboards were used for ease of cleaning.”
Although the additions and alterations to the Kensington project may seem effortless, Bott says that the condition and design of the original house did present some challenges.
“One of the design challenges [of the original house] was the lack of light coming into the rear of the home, but this was resolved by adding great quality Velux skylights to various areas of the house. As with any large build such as this, there were also challenges during the building process. The restoration of the original section of the home required a lot of time consuming and detailed work to ensure that ceilings and features were retained, including the installation of ducted air conditioning to this area.”
Other unforeseen difficulties included sub-floor ventilation and sewer bridging issues, as well as the challenge of building in a flood zone. The installation of an oversized solid-core cavity sliding door between the playroom and the dining room also required a lot of time and patience to achieve the perfect outcome.
But, the Kensington residence today shows no trace of these difficulties. With four bedrooms and an office, three full bathrooms, two large living areas, a dining room, kitchen, family-sized laundry, a mudroom and a large deck and pool area, the value of the property – both financially and in terms of its use – has significantly increased.
“The home [originally] had an existing brick addition built in the 1980s, which did not meet the needs of my clients and their growing family,” says Matson.
“The additions have been a major improvement to the amenity of the home, and the renovations have increased accommodation and made it more suitable for modern family life.”
Photography by Michael Anderson, Paramount Studios
Project management: The Design Hunter