Having spent the past decade creating functional and inviting homes for her clients, architect Carla Middleton was ready to take on the redesign of her own home.
She and her husband Chris bought the semi in Sydney’s east in 2012, and spent their weekends doing small renovation projects to make it more liveable. Priorities shifted once they became parents to Anna, now four, and Toby, 18 months. “When Anna was a toddler, the disconnect between the backyard and living areas was evident and we decided a large-scale renovation was necessary,” Carla says. “By then, we’d been living in the house for six years, which was useful in understanding the orientation, the way we use certain areas and what we wanted to screen.”
The brief? Two storeys, five bedrooms and three bathrooms, with an abundance of natural light and lots of space for the family to grow into. Privacy was a major consideration too – nestled within a densely populated suburb, the home is overlooked on three sides. The solution was to forgo windows that might line up with those of the adjoining properties and instead install skylights for natural light.
Carla’s professional ability to think outside the box is evident in the modestly sized main bedroom. “Our bedroom is for sleeping, reading and meditating. It’s not huge but appropriately sized for what we need.” The space gained by this approach allowed for a generous double-height void in the living area. “Chris and I decided we’d much prefer a beautiful living room to share with our family and friends than a large main bedroom suite that no one but us sees.”
While the home sits on a long and narrow block, Carla’s clever layout and thoughtful material selections make it feel incredibly light and spacious. The original front entry and hallway were retained and lead to a cleverly appointed kitchen, where there’s an open pantry for easy access and a bench area for small appliances A north-facing window serves as splashback, maximising natural light, and crisp white joinery for storage and concealing the fridge. From here, sliding doors open to the deck and alfresco kitchen adjoining the backyard and home office beyond.
Three new bedrooms upstairs are fitted with plush carpets and linen curtains, with woollen batt insulation to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer and an Acoustica QuietWave under-floor product to reduce noise transfer from downstairs. “Having our bedrooms on the first floor level allows people to retreat upstairs if necessary,” says Carla. “I designed a cavity sliding door in the hallway upstairs to keep it extra quiet.”
The final family-friendly flourish is the clever storage throughout, including extra deep mirrored cabinets in the bathrooms with powerpoints inside, space in the roof to store items like suitcases and car seats, and a bar area under the stairs for Chris’ coffee paraphernalia. “Storage is important and needs to be well designed,” Carla says. “We use every inch of every space. It all works wonderfully well for our family; I’ve noticed my kids behave so differently in a space filled with natural light!”
Describe the brief and the result you were trying to achieve with THIS renovation?
A forever home with natural light and space for the family to grow into.
What was the design solution?
The rooms are designed according to use. Privacy and natural light are achieved with skylights.
Were there any compromises?
We sacrificed space in our bedrooms for more volume in the living zone, and also chose a studio over a swimming pool.
What are you most happy with?
The kitchen, dining, living area and backyard all flow seamlessly, with natural light and connection to the outdoors – great with small children running in and out.
Do you have any words of wisdom for would-be renovators?
Take your time planning – think about what may suit your lifestyle now and in the future.
How long did the renovation take?
The building process took eight months.
Design and building team: Architect: Carla Middleton Architecture; carlamiddleton.com, Builder: TC Build; tcbuild.com.au, Joiner: Kitchen Complex; kitchencomplex.com.au, Landscaper: Pepo Botanic Design; pepo.com.au, Concrete: Concrete Bespoke; concretebespoke.com
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