This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Rammed Earth Meets California Bungalow

Homes

Sometimes unlikely combinations really work – pear and parmesan, Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden, and now, a California Bungalow and rammed earth building!

This clever and considered residence designed by Steffen Welsch Architects in Brunswick East is home for Raja Rengasamy, Ruth Halls and son Nikhil (2), who love their earthy, contemporary reimagined home.

11th September, 2019

The Brunswick home of Raja Rengasamy, Ruth Halls, designed by Steffen Welsch Architects. Rammed earth walls by Olnee Rammed Earth. Dining table and chairs from Curious Grace (‘Dining Table 167’ by Takahashi Asko, and ‘Max Dining Chair). Kitchen cabinets by MTR Designer Cabinets. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Clearview Sun Control provides gentle sun protection, and chair from Trit House (Sunday Lounge by Wendel Bodk). Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Raja and Ruth with son Nikhil. Pot plant from Toast and Honey Studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The lounge room with an impressive rammed earth wall backdrop by Olnee Rammed Earth. Cushions by Bonnie and Neil. Coffee table by Trit House. Full Moon Centre Table from Trit House.  ‘Sunday Lounge’ by Wendel Bodk from Trit House. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A spacious view to the living and dining room. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Pull up a stool to the kitchen counter. Kitchen cabinets by MTR Designer Cabinets. Tiles ‘Pom Ponette’ by Artedomus. Crisp Dulux Lexicon Half throughout the home. The lighting, sound and automation is by The Electric Crew. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Book nook! The joinery is by Makin Workshop. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Garden design by Peachy Green Garden Architects, and garden construction by Josh Norman Landscapes. The outdoor paint is Dulux Natural While and Colourbond Shale Grey. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Peek-a-boo out the window of the nursery room. Outdoor furniture by Fermob. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The master bedroom, featuring pendant shade by Alistair Whyte. Bed by Makin Workshop. Artwork by Amanda Ruck. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The main bathroom is lined with a recycled timber wall and bench seat, and tiles from the Signorino Tile Gallery. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Bathroom details. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A Brunswick bungalow gets a new lease on life. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 11th September 2019

‘We were continuously outbid for already completed homes, and thought maybe we could renovate a home for cheaper… we were wrong.’ 

Raja Rengasamy and Ruth Halls moved into their California Bungalow in Brunswick in 2014, but always had big plans for the ‘wonky, draughty, asbestos-laden’ property! Raja explains that their ambition to combine their heritage with a rammed earth extension emerged from a slightly ambitious starting point. He describes ‘we were continuously outbid for already completed homes, and thought maybe we could renovate a home for cheaper… we were wrong.’ 

While it may have cost a little more than they bargained for, the couple has created a highly resolved property that marries two unlikely aesthetics. Their interest in rammed earth came via Ruth’s parents, who had handbuilt their family home in the Yarra Valley in the 70s. Armed only with a book on rammed earth building, her parents constructed the home over two years. While Ruth and Raja weren’t so keen on doing the labour, they loved this material, with its warm, textural feel and thermal mass properties, and were very keen to incorporate rammed earth into their home. Luckily, they found an expert provider in Olnee Rammed Earth, along with their builders, Renovation One.

The resulting structure is filled with natural light from the adjoining bungalow, and the existing home is expanded without a typical ‘box on the back’ renovation. Raja highlights how engaging the architects from Steffen Welsch Architects gave rise to ‘ideas we never would have imagined ourselves’.  

Inside, the natural tones of the rammed earth and timber details sit alongside Dulux Lexicon white walls, providing a crisp, contemporary feel. Raja describes the rammed earth elements as ‘sand dune-like’, helping the contemporary space feel relaxed and grounded. 

For anyone thinking of renovating their own home, Raja passes on some wisdom given to him by a friend. After hearing horror stories about living in a home during its renovation, a friend advised the couple to budget for renting a place during construction. He explains ‘we were very, very lucky to have rented a house across the road from the build site.’ This meant the family could watch the building unfold, close enough to keep a watchful eye – far enough to retreat when necessary!

This Week

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Homes

A Designer’s 1970s Bells Beach Dream Home!

The incredible eclectic home of interior designer Léo Terrando and Jessica Watts, on Victoria's surf coast.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

Interiors

A Colour-Drenched, 'Grandmillennial' Home In North Sydney

Bold colour, and both English and Moroccan influences come together in this North Sydney home by Lisa Burdus.

Creative People

The Mother and Daughter Duo Uncovering Perth’s Hidden Terrazzo Treasures

A community exhibition uncovering Fremantle residences containing terrazzo floors by master artisan, Giuseppe Scolaro - as part of the city'...
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Architecture

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Architect

Four of Australia's best architects answer your frequently asked questions, from what an architect does, to how much they cost!

Interiors

Get The Look: Dark + Moody Bathrooms And Kitchens

All the product and styling advice you need to achieve the dark, moody bathrooms and kitchen interiors trend, brought to you Oliveri.

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Creative entrepreneurs Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their respective small business knowledge to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-...

TDF Design Awards

The Sensational Interior Design Finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

The 12 incredible residential projects in the running to win the Interior Design award at the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021, presented by...

Indigenous Art

15 Excellent Indigenous Art Centres To Support And Celebrate!

We've spoken to some experts, and pulled together this guide on purchasing Aboriginal artwork ethically, and some ideas of where to find it!...

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

News

Shop These Plush Woollen Rugs And Get A Special TDF Discount!

Carpet Court’s customisable rug range is made with 100% New Zealand wool and can be cut to suit the size, shape and colour of your interio...
Sponsored

News

The TDF ‘ALL THE THINGS’ 500k Giveaway!

Help us celebrate half a million (!) Insta followers with epic prize packs for three lucky readers! 

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

A Cosy Urban Cabin Surrounded By Lush Greenery

The fuss-free North Fitzroy renovation of Cyndi Dawes.

Homes

From Un-rentable To Unbelievable!

An interior stylist and a builder's luxe family home in Bentleigh East, featuring art by Miranda Skoczek, Kirra Jamison, Ali McNabney-Steven...

Homes

A Loving Heritage Restoration

A historic 1870s Armadale home is refurbished to former glory, with contemporary flourish!

This Week

News

Shop These Plush Woollen Rugs And Get A Special TDF Discount!

Carpet Court’s customisable rug range is made with 100% New Zealand wool and can be cut to suit the size, shape and colour of your interio...
Sponsored

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Creative entrepreneurs Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their respective small business knowledge to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-...

Architecture

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Architect

Four of Australia's best architects answer your frequently asked questions, from what an architect does, to how much they cost!

Creative People

The Mother and Daughter Duo Uncovering Perth’s Hidden Terrazzo Treasures

A community exhibition uncovering Fremantle residences containing terrazzo floors by master artisan, Giuseppe Scolaro - as part of the city'...
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

TDF Design Awards

The Sensational Interior Design Finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

The 12 incredible residential projects in the running to win the Interior Design award at the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021, presented by...

Interiors

Get The Look: Dark + Moody Bathrooms And Kitchens

All the product and styling advice you need to achieve the dark, moody bathrooms and kitchen interiors trend, brought to you Oliveri.

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

Indigenous Art

15 Excellent Indigenous Art Centres To Support And Celebrate!

We've spoken to some experts, and pulled together this guide on purchasing Aboriginal artwork ethically, and some ideas of where to find it!...

Interiors

A Colour-Drenched, 'Grandmillennial' Home In North Sydney

Bold colour, and both English and Moroccan influences come together in this North Sydney home by Lisa Burdus.

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Homes

A Designer’s 1970s Bells Beach Dream Home!

The incredible eclectic home of interior designer Léo Terrando and Jessica Watts, on Victoria's surf coast.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

News

The TDF ‘ALL THE THINGS’ 500k Giveaway!

Help us celebrate half a million (!) Insta followers with epic prize packs for three lucky readers! 

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Similar Stories

Homes

A Cosy Urban Cabin Surrounded By Lush Greenery

The fuss-free North Fitzroy renovation of Cyndi Dawes

Homes

From Un-rentable To Unbelievable!

An interior stylist and a builder's luxe family home in Bentleigh East.

Homes

A Loving Heritage Restoration

A historic 1870s Armadale home is refurbished to former glory, with contemporary flourish!

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.