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A Truly Transformative Cottage Conversion

Architecture

A cottage is supposed to be cute and cosy, not bright and spacious.

Eva-Marie Prineas of Studio Prineas challenges that misconception, with this ingenious re-design of a compact dwelling in Cammeray, on Sydney’s lower North Shore. A formerly dark and disconnected residence is now a bright, airy family home – that’s astonishingly only nine square metres larger than before!

24th April, 2019

A small addition brings sweeping light and connection to landscape. Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Every room has a visual or physical connection to the outdoors. Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Warm timber meets minimal aesthetics. Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

The new addition is only 9 square meters of additional footprint, but breathes a whole new life into the cottage. Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Photo  Chris Warnes. Styling  Sarah Ellison.

Miriam McGarry
Wednesday 24th April 2019

This compact cottage in Cammeray, New South Wales felt dark and disconnected from its surroundings when architect and studio director Eva-Marie Prineas first engaged with the site. She explains that the original cottage and previous add-on featured ‘poorly lit interiors and the separation of living spaces from the garden.’

The architects demolished a pre-existing renovation and reconsidered how to bring light and airiness to the cottage. Due to the home being located within a Heritage Conservation Area, any new additions needed to be concealed from the street view. Eva-Marie describes how this restriction helped to ‘inform the dramatic form of the addition and the dynamic interior spaces.’

The act of concealing the renovation helped direct the ‘step-down’ design, which nestles the new extension into the garden. This change in level between the old and the new maintains the existing roof-line, but creates a connection to the backyard. Eva-Marie highlights how the renovation conjures ‘dramatic internal volumes’, with a north-facing skylight that runs across the full width of the new addition, allowing for light to flood into the home.

The newly illuminated interiors are enhanced by a pared back materials palette, including white painted recycled brick, grooved joinery, natural stone and Pandomo floors. This grey-and-white minimalism is enlivened with warm timber veneer joinery, and luxe brass details in the light fittings.

The house shies away from an open-plan configuration (the dining, living and kitchen areas are all distinct but connected) – but embraces an ‘open-out’ model where every room has a physical or visual link to the outdoors. The renovation has only added nine square metres of floorplan to the original cottage, but this connection to the garden and surrounds has dramatically expanded the sense of space.

This dynamic cottage renovation was shortlisted for the 2018 Houses Awards, and won ‘Best Use of Lighting’ in the House and Garden 50 Top Rooms. Fitting accolades for a truly transformative renovation!

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