An Edwardian timber cottage has received new life with improved configuration and a light-filled open-plan extension. These additions bring the house into the 21st century and make the most of its sunny, beachside location. 

According to Sheri Haby Architects, the Sandringham home’s previous owners had added an extension at the back, including a main bedroom, kitchen and dining area. However, the space had an undesirable orientation and the rooms were poorly-configured. 

“We needed to consider how this space could be better utilised. The client was comfortable that they didn’t need a bigger house, just one that worked better,” say the architects.

“The design brief was to provide a spacious, light-filled, open-plan area at the back that better connected to the backyard and corrected the lack of privacy between the main bedroom and living area. The existing house already measured 207sqm and with a site area of 491sqm, the client was reluctant to sacrifice any backyard nor overcapitalise on the relatively small site.”

The period house at the front was retained, while there were a number of additions at the rear of the house. Most notably, two gable roof forms were added – one each for the master bedroom and family area – to lift the ceilings and give a feeling of spaciousness. The master bedroom was also extended slightly to provide a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite, and its entry reworked to increase privacy between the bedroom and living area.

The kitchen and living area were flipped to connect the kitchen with a new outside deck, where the gable roof form was extended over the deck as a timber pergola. Glazed sliding doors now separate the indoors from the outdoors. When opened, the rear of the house becomes an effortless indoor-outdoor space for dining, relaxing and luxuriating in sun-drenched backyard views.

To further increase light in the house, a new floor-to-ceiling window and skylight were carved into the east side of the house at the end of the kitchen, offering more opportunities for diners to enjoy the sun in this beachside abode. Further additions include a refurbished and reworked bathroom and laundry, which now include a separate powder room.


Sustainability is an important feature of this project. The majority of the existing house was retained or reworked, reducing waste. Kingspan Air-Cell and R3.5 batts were used as ceiling insulation in the extension, while R3.5 batts were added to the existing ceiling. New lightweight walls are insulated with R2 batts and Sisalation reflective foil, and the floor is fitted with R2 insulation. 

Other sustainable features include new windows with Australian hardwood timber frames and low E clear double glazing, low-energy LED lighting, and a reworking of the existing floor ducted gas heating system and evaporative cooling system to suit the additions.