A small post-war cottage in the Brisbane suburb of Michelton went through a modern renovation to accommodate the needs of a contemporary lifestyle.

Located just 10km from Brisbane’s CBD, Michelton has a rich history going all the way back to the 1830s. Today, this north-western Brisbane suburb combines its proud heritage with the convenience of modern city living.

Architecture studio Shaun Lockyer Architects, which was engaged by the owners to carry out a modern makeover, sympathetically reimagined this striking post-war cottage to harmoniously fuse the old with the new in keeping with the design brief. 

“Where other designers spoke of endless rooms and multiple storeys, Shaun spoke of bespoke finishes, light-filled spaces, efficient design, and maintaining the character and history of the house, all of which were far more in keeping with what we had in mind for our long-term sentimental family home,” recalls the client. 

So that the home was contextually responsive, Lockyer opted for a mixed palette of brick and timber with a layout that centred on a new primary living pavilion that engaged inhabitants with the landscape. 

“The brick specified was PGH Bricks’ Smooth range in Black and Tan, which draws on the post-war vernacular that characterises the local neighbourhood, with the balance of the house focused on retention and restoration,” explains Lockyer. “We have used this range of bricks before and so had confidence in its texture, colour and application.” 

Design highlights of the renovated Michelton house included a lofty pitched ceiling with ample glazing ensuring plenty of natural light in the living areas while also enhancing the sense of space and adding to the property’s individuality; and textured brick juxtaposed with richly-coloured timber to infuse the home with a warm, welcoming ambience and keep out the Queensland heat thanks to the bricks’ superior thermal properties.

“The main challenge with this project was to reconcile a pragmatic brief within the context of a post-war home that didn’t adequately address contemporary lifestyle,” says Lockyer. “This meant the design needed to find economical ways to achieve all the accommodation necessary while minimising the amount of disruptive work to the existing fabric. However, this constraint ultimately created opportunities to subvert the traditional entry sequence to the property and create a more casual, engaged form of living.” 

According to Lockyer, the clients wanted a “simple, robust home that was economical in size, but poetic in outcome, as well as being contextually responsive”, a brief to which he has well and truly done justice.

“It helped that our clients were true to their values and prioritised quality over quantity,” he adds. “The outcome of this admirable virtue was that a home of relatively modest budget was able to be delivered in a way that is truly special; manifested in the intimate, comfortable and relaxed cottage they now call home.” 

Photographer: Scott Burrows