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An 1850s Horse Stable Turned Stunning Guest House

Architecture

You know a home must be pretty special when the guest house alone is worthy of its own feature! 

We first introduced this project to you in 2018, focusing predominantly on the property’s main Victorian home, but today is all about the guest house. 

This building is actually the fourth major iteration of this historic 1850s structure. Originally a horse stable, it was later transformed into a boarding house, before eventually becoming a media and conference space.

We spoke to Renato D’Ettorre Architects about how they reinstated the charm of this original sandstone outbuilding, and converted it into an inviting guest house.

19th May, 2020

This sandstone guest house was originally built in the 1850s as a cab proprietor’s horse stable. Photo – Justin Alexander.

When Renato D’Ettorre Architects were engaged on the project, this building has most recently been functioning as a media and conference space. Left: Photo – Justin Alexander. Right: Photo – Simone Bossi.

The project aim was to rebuild and restore the stone structure with respect to history, while implementing a completely contemporary design. Left: Photo – Simone Bossi. Right: Photo – Justin Alexander.

The undercover courtyard outside facilitates lively social gatherings and long summer lunches. Photo – Justin Alexander.

A garden separates this building from the main house on the Surry Hills property. Photo – Justin Alexander.

The property driveway and carport. Photo – Simone Bossi.

‘The charm and the honesty of construction and rustic nature of the structure provided all the inspiration and the guiding principles,’ says Renato D’Ettorre. Photo – Simone Bossi.

The now complete guest house! Photo – Simone Bossi.

A concrete plunge pool. Photo – Justin Alexander.

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 19th May 2020

‘It generates a wonderful quality of uniform daylight; light that is both warm and joyous.’ – Renato D’Ettorre

There aren’t many guest houses with the architectural pedigree of this project by Renato D’Ettorre Architects!

This two-storey building is just one element of a larger Surry Hills property (you can see the main house here) with origins dating back to the mid 19th century. 

Heritage records reveal the 1850s structure was originally a horse stables owned by a cab proprietor. It later became a boarding house in 1894, then in 1993 was converted into a commercial office. 

When Renato D’Ettorre Architects were engaged to renovate the building, they found the original character of the former stables had been lost over its many lives. Their aim was to rebuild and restore the stone structure with respect to its history, while implementing a completely contemporary design. Unnecessary details and ornamentation were removed to honour the original building and promote a simple way of living. 

New materials introduced into the guest house such as Carrara marble, red brick and oak all complement the existing sandstone. ‘The sandstone has a delicate golden colour and is beautifully receptive to the sunlight that enters via the new large skylight,’ says Renato D’Ettorre, director of Renato D’Ettorre Architects. ‘It generates a wonderful quality of uniform daylight; light that is both warm and joyous.’

One of the only contrasting features is the new metal staircase, which Renato deliberately designed to be a focal element. ‘Generating visual richness to an otherwise pure and modest interior, the design and fabrication of a winding staircase of open metal treads creates a striking, weightless, abstract and contemporary pure structure which is in stark contrast to the rustic structure,’ says Renato.

The ground floor of this guest house provides an ideal recreational area, particularly in the warmer months. Being located next to the property’s concrete plunge pool area and courtyard, this is where you’ll find the owners hosting lively social gatherings and long summer lunches. It’s like a private Italian villa, right in the heart of Surry Hills.

See more projects by Renato D’Ettorre Architects here

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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