Handcrafted Petersen D71 bricks by Robertson's Building Products Pty Ltd formed part of the materials palette put together by the architect to give a new lease of life to an old red brick 1920s Californian Bungalow in Hawthorn.

Lyall House’s transformation was designed by Neil Architecture with the scope encompassing the restoration of the existing house and the addition of a spacious and light-filled contemporary rear extension.

Known for their thoughtful design and harmonious material choices, Neil Architecture referenced the materiality of the old house, and was able to beautifully pair natural materials with stunning results.

Neil Architecture director David Neil said, “We wanted to use materials that were sympathetic to the house, and we chose the palette based on the original brick. So that’s why we thought to use Petersen bricks as the base for the new extension. The existing brick on the house was a red colour, which had some of the yellow/apricot tones coming through of the Petersen D71 that we chose.”

The new living space on the ground floor, which houses a study, laundry, powder room, kitchen, living room and dining area, features Petersen bricks weaving inside and outside to bring the outdoors in. Neil explained that they wanted a good visual connection with the new garden and pool, and the big oak tree.

The new grey-washed timber-clad second floor references the gable detailing on the original house, and almost floats over the solid Petersen brick base. “We wanted to use lots of timber because there’s lots of it used in the gable detailing on the existing house, so that’s what inspired us to firstly do the timber wall cladding,” Neil said.

This new storey, along with the Petersen bricks, the spectacular lime-washed timber ceiling in the living area and the polished concrete floor, delivers a warm textural palette that sits elegantly together.

“We’d never used the D71 brick before, and we were quite excited about it and the combination with our stained timber ceiling and the concrete floor. Our client was a little nervous about using the brick because they thought it would look too retro, but they trusted us,” Neil says.

“Now the owners love the brick. Actually they’re pretty proud that they were trusting. They love the outcome and they love the reaction that everyone has when they come into the house, that it’s a very calm space, a very warm palette. We get a lot of those comments about our renovations, because it’s more about texture and warmth,” he added.

Photographer: Hilary Bradford