A California Bungalow Reconnects With Its Magnificent Backyard

You could say The Peekaboo Residence by Native Design Workshop was developed backwards, in that it was designed with a keen awareness of ‘what NOT to do’!

While the owners were keen to retain their home’s charming period features, the extension – which essentially cut the family off from the generous garden beyond – had to go. Additionally, nearby ‘faux Victorian/Edwardian/Federation’ renovations in the local neighbourhood became a reference point on styles to avoid! The result, instead, is a generous home that celebrates its California bungalow origins, in a contemporary, sustainable context.


Amelia Barnes
Supports The Design Files

The Peekaboo House by Native Design Workshop. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

The home was designed around making the most of the backyard. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Instead of building out across the garden, the team went up! Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

It was important to ensure daylight spilled into every room. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Custom joinery by Exzibit Design. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Softness, simplicity and warmth were a priority for the client. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

The project’s name, Peekaboo Residence, is a surprisingly layered reference to the design that provides a visual connection to the clients’ children while playing outside, while also facilitating privacy as required. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Design details. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Open plan living spaces. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

A chic bathroom. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Efficiency was key to this build. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

The master bedroom. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Amelia Barnes
1st of August 2019

When starting the design process of this Preston home renovation, Janusz Choromanski, director of Native Design Workshop, recalls saying to his clients, “There are a lot of faux Victorian/Edwardian/Federation houses going up around here – let’s not do that.’

The plan for this project was to eliminate a previously ‘wasteful’ back verandah to better maximise outdoor space. Early on it was decided that the generous existing garden would remain in all its glory, and that the new building works would not exceed the line of the soon-to-be-demolished verandah. If Janusz and the team couldn’t go out, they had to go up!

Capturing sunlight was important to the family, as was ensuring the home was durable enough to ‘withstand kids tearing through it and taking the knocks as it ages’ – the ultimate test. The clients were keen for spaces to be open and simple, using warm, soft colours and materials – and also withstand the primary school years! ‘Being a parent made it easier to understand the madness of a household’, tells Janusz.

A careful consideration for sustainability and efficiency was taken, ensuring the home would function as passively as possible – catching the breeze, opening up to the north wherever possible, allowing daylight to spill into every room of the house and using thermal mass and hydronic heating throughout.

The project’s name, Peekaboo Residence, is a reference to the design that provides a visual connection to the clients’ children while playing outside, while also facilitating privacy as required. The name is also a nod to the fact the extension can only just be seen from the street where it peeks over the original façade.

‘During the concept design process, we used this image from Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) is peeking his head out of the rear window of his limousine. I don’t know why, but that image has always stuck with me when looking at the house from the street,’ says Janusz. Gotta say, that’s the first time we’ve heard of Dumb and Dumber as an architectural reference!

The result of the completed Peekaboo Residence is a home that celebrates its Californian bungalow origins, while successfully reconnecting its occupants with the backyard.

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