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A Dilapidated Cottage Transformed Into A Modern Family Home

Architecture

When given a brief for a functional family home on a modest budget, there’s a risk the architect’s creativity must be curtailed. But, the cleverest architects thrive under these constraints, creating the most innovative of solutions under pressure!

Olaver Architecture are those architects. In this renovation project in the inner-city suburb of Richmond, they have transformed a small, decrepit single-fronted cottage into a bright, contemporary sanctuary – no mean feat!

24th April, 2020

The original Victorian weatherboard was decrepit from the beginning, but remained the inspiration for the final design. Exterior painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

The clients had pre-purchased Baltic pine floorboards and brass fittings, so the architects had a base palette to work around. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

The back of the house opens out onto the backyard, giving the rear facade over to the natural world. Exterior painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

Who needs television when you have a whole wall of glazing? And deep slabs of marble! Paintings by Oliver Watts and Claudia Greathead. Walls painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

Living room details. Walls painted in Dulux Natural White. Paintings by Oliver Watts and Claudia Greathead. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

Light floods in through the large sliding glass doors. Walls painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

The kitchen sprawls around a corner of the room, leaving ample space for living and dining spaces to share the open plan area. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

A skylight adds to the light drenching in from the sliding doors. Walls and ceiling painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

Ceiling-to-floor walnut cabinetry is a statement piece. Walls painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

A pane of scalloped glass at the door carries light down the hallway. Walls painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

The lush green carpet makes a forest floor of the children’s bedroom! Walls painted in Dulux Natural White. Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

The bathroom is heavenly! Photo – Josh Robenstone. Styling – Victoria Merrett.

Sasha Gattermayr
Friday 24th April 2020

‘Our vision was to provide a functional sanctuary, wherein the rituals of daily life are made that little bit easier.’ – Emlyn Olaver

Olaver Architecture opted for a subtle, sophisticated approach when it came to transforming this dilapidated single-fronted cottage into a modern family home. ‘We took a ‘light touch’ approach to the architecture, and simply extruded the original form,’ explains director Emlyn Olaver. ‘On the inside we ensured that the modest space was amplified with natural light and rich materiality,’ he explains, while minimal changes were made to the street-facing exterior.

The clients had pre-purchased brass fittings and Baltic pine floorboards, so Emlyn and his team had a base palette to work around when selecting the rest of the materials. Rich burgundy stone, walnut joinery and dark marble slabs bring depth to the light-filled communal spaces, while lush forest green carpet provides reference to the natural world in the bedrooms. The bathroom is also heavenly, bathing in radiant natural light that accents the rich colours of the marble, tiles and walnut surfaces.

Though the existing Victorian weatherboard served as the inspiration for the final design, the brief was to create a functional, easy-to-live-in family home that made the most of a small footprint. One key part of the design response was to maximise light, through the extensive use of glazing. With enormous sliding doors that sweep the rear of the house, and a pane of scalloped glass inserted in the front door to carry light down the hallway, sun streams into the cottage at all hours of the day.

As a professional challenge to Emlyn and his team, the entire home was designed without the use of 3D modelling or computer rendering. Instead, all the drawings were done in the old fashioned way, with card models and drawings! An anecdotal detail that makes this clever little renovation project all the more impressive!

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net