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

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Architecture

Owning a corner block on a leafy street in Bondi sounds like the absolute Sydney dream life. But despite its enviable location on a high street hugging the south Bondi ridge-line, the site of this home presented architects Fox Johnston with their fair share of challenges!

Splitting the design over three levels, these clever architects added almost 60m2 to the floorplan of the home that now stands here – that’s over a third of the site’s existing footprint!

7th April, 2021

The living room on the middle level of this Bondi home opens out to an undercover balcony! Photo – Dave Wheeler.

Looking down into the light-gathering central courtyard. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

The living room and dining/kitchen areas is punctuated by the central courtyard. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

A lush courtyard extends the kitchen area. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

This compact, sunny home feels like a never-ending holiday! Photo – Dave Wheeler.

Looking from the kitchen to the rear courtyard. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

Timber beams really warm up the space. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

A generous kitchen. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

A natural extension of the home, the rear courtyard makes a huge difference to making this level feel bigger than it really is. Photo – Brett Boardman.

The dining area, looking out to the internal courtyard on the middle level. Artwork by Stefania Reynolds. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

Light fills the middle level. Photo – Brett Boardman.

Soft details are found in this curved wall, timber staircase and ceiling beams. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

The main bedroom upstairs. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

Looking out from the front balcony, which extends the living room. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

The architects have managed to make this home feel cosy and private, despite the public walkway on the north-east side. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

A bright and sunny bathroom. Photo – Dave Wheeler.

Sally Tabart
Wednesday 7th April 2021

‘Next to a traditional semi we’ve attached this bold, curved copper wall on a tiny block. This sculptural element crowns and connects the entire site’ – Conrad Johnston.

Looking at this warm, serene Bondi home by Fox Johnston, you might not guess the difficulties the site originally presented.

For one, it was small, narrow and steep, with a public walkway on one side that presented privacy issues. It was also one of a pair of twin inter-war semi detached homes – a council approval nightmare. But with a few clever design solutions, Fox Johnston were able to pack a 212m2 floor plan over three storeys on this tricky 153.9m2 site, creating a private, compact, yet generous family home that feels worlds away from its bustling Bondi locale.

The brief for Fox Johnston was a small, distinctive, sustainable house for the clients, a couple who had already owned a home on the site for 10 years. They wanted a light-filled home that felt private, with options for a home office as well as a space for long stays from visiting overseas parents. The architect’s response was to go up, splitting the work, living, and sleeping zones across three deceptively expansive-feeling levels.

Enter from the street at ground level and you’ll find a home office, laundry and powder room. ‘The small ground floor section forms a solid plinth for the upper levels’, explains Conrad Johnston, co-director of Fox Johnston.

The middle level is where the main living spaces are, bookended by a front balcony and rear courtyard that are massive space-extenders. The open areas make the space feel a lot bigger than it actually is, offering primo indoor-outdoor living options by opening up completely at either end. A central courtyard divides the living room on one side and the dining area and kitchen on the other, an early idea the Fox Johnston team developed to ‘gather light’ and create a feeling of distinct zones rather than just being in one long room. ‘Our aim was to achieve a cohesive material language’, explains Fox Johnston associate Brad Phillips. ‘For instance, instead of breaking up the flooring from inside to out, the living room concrete floors continue out onto the balcony. We went to great length on the details, so with the balcony doors open, it feels like one space.’

On the top level you’ll find a main bedroom with an ensuite and a guest bedroom and bathroom,  where the client’s parents can stay and enjoy their own space and privacy on long visits to Australia.

But the real knock-out feature of this small but mighty home is the curved wall of copper, wrapping the exterior on the home’s north-west side. Conrad considers the aesthetic of raw materials that age over time a hallmark of the Fox Johnston aesthetic – evidenced in this Bondi home. ‘It’s a big feature for the setting and the street. Next to a traditional semi we’ve attached this bold, curved copper wall on a tiny block’, says Conrad. ‘This sculptural element crowns and connects the entire site’.

The clients describe the experience of living here like ‘being on holidays’ – and we can totally see why!

This Week

Shopping

These Deliciously Colourful Picnic Rugs Are Made From Recycled Plastic!

The season of picnicking has arrived, and we've found the best rugs to see you through pizzas in the park and fish and chips on the beach.

Shopping

Say Hello To Your New Favourite Summer Shoes With This FRANKiE4 Giveaway!

Everything you need to know for your chance to win one of five pairs of shoes (of your choice!) from Australian label FRANKiE4!

Shopping

11 Of The Best Places To Score Vintage Furniture + Homewares

Hunting down everything from 70s modular sofas, to retro gems from Europe, see the 11 vintage sellers and stores we love!
Christina Karras

News

Don't Miss Major Discounts On Designer Furniture At DOMO's Black Friday Sale!

Here’s everything you need to know about DOMO’s Black Friday Sale, with 20% off iconic designer brands, for one day only!
Sponsored

Design Eye

Architect Luke Fry, On Modernising A Heritage Home

Architect Luke Fry shares his advice on sensitively balancing old and new, when modernising a heritage home!

Architecture

A Contemporary Brunswick Addition That Contorts Out Of Sight

A major Brunswick home extension by Lisa Breeze Architect takes its cues from the surrounding neighbourhood and its Edwardian facade.
Amelia Barnes
  17 hours ago

Interiors

A 1915 Horse Stables Turned Family Home In The Adelaide Hills

SpaceCraft transformed a circa 1915 horse stable into a family’s elevated version of a traditional farmhouse in the Adelaide Hills.

Interiors

How To Turn Home Inspiration Into Reality, With Style Sourcebook

This free web-based mood board tool is the perfect place to refine your interior design vision. We show you how it's done!

Homes

A Melbourne Family’s Ever Changing ‘Light House’

An innovative, sculptural screen invites dynamic shadows into the family home of Andrew Jaques, and Christina Chiodo, renovated by Layan.

News

See Ethiopian-Norwegian Artist Olana Janfa's Colourful, Debut Solo Show!

The Melbourne-based painter’s first solo show is opening tonight, exploring themes of language, race and status in his playful works.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Sensitively Built Coastal Garden, Designed To Look ‘Untouched’

The Garden Social carefully designed a garden, built into waterfront sand dunes on NSW's South Coast, where the serene seascape beyond takes...
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Floating House Entangled In Brush Box Trees On North Stradbroke Island

The tree canopy takes precedence over ocean views in this holiday home for three families, designed by Conrad Gargett architects.

Homes

A Tiny Slice Of Japan Inside A Pink Darlinghurst Terrace

Ceramicist Laura Butler shares her 1890s Darlinghurst pink terrace, renovated by Trias in accordance with Japanese design principles.
Lucy Feagins
  1 hour ago

Stays

An Architect’s Handcrafted Home + Bathhouse Turned Unique Accommodation

Take a look inside Liptrap Loft—a one-of-a-kind cabin with a Japanese-inspired bathhouse in Walkerville, Victoria.

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Designer Creating Clever Furniture, For Small Spaces

Meet designer Katrina Ramm of Ka Ra Studio, who's playful pieces that that make the most of the ‘precious space’ inside our homes!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Architecture

Bigger Isn’t Better In This Newcastle Home

Covering just a 55 square metre footprint, this Curious Practice project in Newcastle proves less is truly more!

Sustainable Homes

A Former Corner Store Turned Sustainable Family Home

A dilapidated, Federation-era shopfront is transformed into a truly unique, energy efficient home by CplusC Architectural Workshop.

Sustainable Homes

A Lush Inner-Melbourne Home That Powers Itself

The owners of Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects pay nothing for fuel or power – it all comes from this epic, high-tech sustainable...

This Week

Shopping

These Deliciously Colourful Picnic Rugs Are Made From Recycled Plastic!

The season of picnicking has arrived, and we've found the best rugs to see you through pizzas in the park and fish and chips on the beach.

Interiors

A 1915 Horse Stables Turned Family Home In The Adelaide Hills

SpaceCraft transformed a circa 1915 horse stable into a family’s elevated version of a traditional farmhouse in the Adelaide Hills.

News

See Ethiopian-Norwegian Artist Olana Janfa's Colourful, Debut Solo Show!

The Melbourne-based painter’s first solo show is opening tonight, exploring themes of language, race and status in his playful works.
Christina Karras

Stays

An Architect’s Handcrafted Home + Bathhouse Turned Unique Accommodation

Take a look inside Liptrap Loft—a one-of-a-kind cabin with a Japanese-inspired bathhouse in Walkerville, Victoria.

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Designer Creating Clever Furniture, For Small Spaces

Meet designer Katrina Ramm of Ka Ra Studio, who's playful pieces that that make the most of the ‘precious space’ inside our homes!
Christina Karras

Shopping

11 Of The Best Places To Score Vintage Furniture + Homewares

Hunting down everything from 70s modular sofas, to retro gems from Europe, see the 11 vintage sellers and stores we love!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Floating House Entangled In Brush Box Trees On North Stradbroke Island

The tree canopy takes precedence over ocean views in this holiday home for three families, designed by Conrad Gargett architects.

Homes

A Melbourne Family’s Ever Changing ‘Light House’

An innovative, sculptural screen invites dynamic shadows into the family home of Andrew Jaques, and Christina Chiodo, renovated by Layan.

Interiors

How To Turn Home Inspiration Into Reality, With Style Sourcebook

This free web-based mood board tool is the perfect place to refine your interior design vision. We show you how it's done!

Gardens

A Sensitively Built Coastal Garden, Designed To Look ‘Untouched’

The Garden Social carefully designed a garden, built into waterfront sand dunes on NSW's South Coast, where the serene seascape beyond takes...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Tiny Slice Of Japan Inside A Pink Darlinghurst Terrace

Ceramicist Laura Butler shares her 1890s Darlinghurst pink terrace, renovated by Trias in accordance with Japanese design principles.
Lucy Feagins
  1 hour ago

News

Don't Miss Major Discounts On Designer Furniture At DOMO's Black Friday Sale!

Here’s everything you need to know about DOMO’s Black Friday Sale, with 20% off iconic designer brands, for one day only!
Sponsored

Shopping

Say Hello To Your New Favourite Summer Shoes With This FRANKiE4 Giveaway!

Everything you need to know for your chance to win one of five pairs of shoes (of your choice!) from Australian label FRANKiE4!

Architecture

A Contemporary Brunswick Addition That Contorts Out Of Sight

A major Brunswick home extension by Lisa Breeze Architect takes its cues from the surrounding neighbourhood and its Edwardian facade.
Amelia Barnes
  17 hours ago

Design Eye

Architect Luke Fry, On Modernising A Heritage Home

Architect Luke Fry shares his advice on sensitively balancing old and new, when modernising a heritage home!

Similar Stories

Architecture

Bigger Isn’t Better In This Newcastle Home

Covering just a 55 square metre footprint, this Curious Practice project proves less is truly more!

Sustainable Homes

A Former Corner Store Turned Sustainable Family Home

A dilapidated, Federation-era shopfront is transformed into a truly unique, energy efficient home.

Sustainable Homes

A Lush Inner-Melbourne Home That Powers Itself

The owners of Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects pay nothing for fuel or power – it all comes from this epic, high-tech sustainable...

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