A Playful Perth Home With Nods To Its Petrol Station Past

The owners behind this Perth property had operated a service station on the site for more than 30 years before they decommissioned the site and subdivided the land — keeping the corner block for themselves to build a new home.

Neil Cownie Architect drew inspiration from the site’s history, cleverly weaving stories of the former petrol station into the unique home.

123 House is full of playful details, from green glass windows inspired by the colour of engine oil, to a quirky balustrade that channels the spokes of a car wheel. Inside, it has enough room for sleepovers with the couple’s six grandchildren!

Christina Karras

123 House in Nedlands, Perth designed by Neil Cownie Architect.

The external forms of the building references the architecture of the neighbourhood — mimicking their white painted masonry walls — often with arches to verandah enclosures and terracotta roof tiles.

A shadow of the home’s street number sparks joy within the local community.

A look at the home’s striking facade.

A pool is hidden in the home’s front yard.

The sandy bricks create a calming backdrop.

Neil Cownie Architect designed a dining table inspired by stacked tyres for the living room.

Bay Dining chairs from Jardan. McKenzie dining chair from Jardan. Neil Cownie Architect-custom designed timber dining table, fabricated by Remington Matters. Akari 550 pendant lights from Living Edge. Custom curtains designed by Neil Cownie Architect. Troldtekt Acoustic panelling in natural finish on ceiling. Ecostone terrazzo floor tiles in colour ‘Laguna’ from Attica Tiles. Cabinetwork NAVlam in Sandblasted finish colour ‘Lamora’. Place mats from Jardan. Ceramic by Kura Studio. Artwork titled ‘Entrance Road’ by Merrick Belyea thanks to The Art Collective.

Hints of green come through in the kitchen.

Appliances from Miele. Brooklyn Bar Stools from Jardan. Senio Lapis wall tiles in colour ‘Rio Velato’ from Attica Tiles. Ecostone terrazzo floor tiles in colour ‘Laguna’ from Attica Tiles.Cabinetwork StyleLite in TruMatte finish colour ‘Alabaster’. Bench top in Caesarstone ‘Fresh Concrete’.

The green-coloured glass window provides privacy from the busy front of the street, while also referencing to the tones of oil.

A perfectly pink bathroom.

Red and yellow stained glass filter coloured light into the living room upstairs. Paintings by Giles Hohnen. Small painting by Stewart Cownie. Ceramics by Kura Studio.

The interiors was inspired by the owner’s Mediterranean heritage. Bedside tables custom designed by Neil Cownie Architect.

Painting by Merrick Belyea.

Christina Karras
7th of August 2023

Nedlands, WA/Whadjuk Noongar Country

At first glance, 123 House by Neil Cownie Architect is undeniably striking.

But beneath its sculptural roof lines and playful cut out that reveals the home’s 123 street number as a shadow, this is a deeply personal place that reflects stories of the owner’s lives. This was especially important to Neil’s clients, as the couple had previously owned and operated a former Ampol service station on the very same site in Perth’s Nedlands for more than 30 years.

‘The petrol station was demolished in October 2014 when my clients commenced the decommissioning of the station and made application to subdivide the site into three residential lots,’ Neil Cownie says.

The clients engaged Neil to create a new ‘maintenance-free’ house on the vacant corner block, with enough space to also accommodate sleepovers from their six grandchildren. Ensuring the home was fit for ageing in place, a lift provides access to the main bedroom and living rooms upstairs, leaving the ground floor for their visiting grandchildren.

Both the site’s unique history and the neighbourhood’s architecture served as inspiration for the resulting design. The exterior’s sandy white bricks and curves reimagines the familiar arches and white masonry walls that are common to the surrounding period homes in the area.

Memories of the former petrol station are cleverly incorporated throughout. A window of textured, green-coloured glass provides privacy from onlookers, while also nodding to the glossy tones of engine oil.

The balustrade was likewise inspired by the spokes of a car wheel, and the letterbox ‘wobbles’ upon a vehicle suspension spring — much to the delight of the owners and the postie!

Neil even designed a custom dining table with circular table legs reminiscent of stacked car tyres.

The interiors have a summery, almost-Mediterranean feel, in honour of the owner’s Greek heritage, with textural materials like mottled face-brickwork, reconstituted timber panels, and lime-washed walls providing a neutral background for the home’s pop of colour in the terrazzo floor and stained-glass windows panels.

Every element of the house seeks to celebrates the owners, giving them a happy home for their next chapter.

‘My clients had given such a good service to the local community when they ran the petrol station on this site, that they are now so incredibly loved by the local community as they make this place their new home,’ Neil says.

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