Sustainable Homes

A Breezy + Sustainably Minded Extension Designed For Entertaining

It’s a bit of a tradition here in Australia to entertain your friends and family from your backyard whenever the weather allows. So when the owners of this Melbourne house decided to renovate their double-fronted Edwardian, creating a relaxed outdoor living and dining space was crucial.

Sustainably focused updates by Ben Callery Architects have transformed the old abode into a low-energy, breezy home in Brunswick that makes the most of the elements.

Christina Karras

A passively designed extension by Ben Callery Architects has turned the Edwardian into an entertainer’s sanctuary. Photo – Keenan Built

Raised ceiling heights in the living and dining enhance the home’s airy feel. Photo – Keenan Built

Bi-folding boors and windows allow for seamless indoor-outdoor flow. Photo – Keenan Built

An L-shaped bench seat invites the owners to enjoy the sun from inside. Photo – Keenan Built

The timber slats of the angled pergola provide dappled shade against the charred timber. Photo – Keenan Built

‘In our initial meeting an inspiration that Dave referred to was the idea of a country kitchen,’ Ben says. Photo – Keenan Built

‘He went on to explain this was his way of describing a kitchen without an island bench, but instead with a large table around which people gather to prepare food. We loved this idea of family and friends coming together.’ Photo – Keenan Built

The big bi-fold door and window also have retractable pleated fly screens! Photo – Keenan Built

The home is filled with natural light. Photo – Keenan Built

The charming claw-foot bathtub was retained from the existing property. Photo – Keenan Built

Christina Karras
10th of March 2023

Updating this Brunswick period home was all about creating new spaces for entertaining, while retaining as much of the original house as possible.

Owners Kylie and Dave engaged Ben Callery Architects for the renovation of their double-fronted Edwardian. On the top of their list was the ability to open the back of the house to the backyard, along with a deck for outdoor living and dining.

‘They wanted natural light and ventilation and to feel the energy and comfort that comes from being connected with the elements,’ Ben Callery says.

This prompted them to renovate the existing property using a sustainably minded approach. External weatherboards were replaced, while the front rooms were upgraded with new insulation to make them more ‘thermally practical’. Original elements like red brick paving, pendant lights, an old claw foot bath, and current appliances were also retained in the updates.

‘The house wasn’t heritage [protected] and could have been demolished, but it would feel wrong to send it to landfill when it is in reasonable condition,’ Ben explains.

But transforming the rear with a passively designed extension was the most important part of the project. The new kitchen forgoes an island bench in favour of a large table where family and friends can come together to prepare food, something that the owners’ had requested from the start – despite not being able to find any references on Pinterest on kitchen without an island!

‘Our vision was for an open and relaxed feeling that reflects the easy-going nature of its owners,’ Ben says. ‘We wanted it to be light-filled and breezy with a great sense space despite its modest footprint. It’s a really compact house, only 150m2 and only 40m2 of that is new so it’s consuming very little in terms of materials and energy.’

North-facing windows provide plenty of passive warmth through in winter, while the crucial addition of bi-folding doors and windows along the rear opened up the entire living room to the backyard a timber deck. Openable windows on both sides on the room facilitate cross ventilation in summer, which eliminate the need for artificial cooling.

Thoughtful additions like built-in bench seats inside and out complete the home, creating cosy corners for Kylie and Dave to enjoy their home’s newfound connection to the outdoors.

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