This Playful Modernist Home Is A Masterclass In Retro Restoration

Whenever it comes time to update a retro home, there’s always a risk of losing the original building’s character and soul to a white-washed renovation, or a new building altogether.

But this 1960s Brisbane home shows how it can be done right! Drawing on famous mid-century homes for inspiration, Paul Butterworth Architect has brilliantly restored the Stafford Heights residence with ‘zingy’ colours, modernist flair, and sympathetic updates — bringing a newfound charm to this special home.

Christina Karras

Stafford Heights Modern is a restoration and renovation of a 1960s home.

The original high set chamfer board house has been reimagined with retro details.

Stacked over the original garage, the second floor now features an extended balcony and new dining space.

Breezeblocks line the entryway.

The bold abstract mural on the balcony by Drapl is a playful element that can be seen from both outside the home, and inside the living room.

The living room.

Owner Lisa and her dog Nala love how natural light and breeze flows throughout the floorplan.

The house was mostly painted white to highlight the natural surrounds.

Abet Laminati ‘860 SEI’ was used to create a new yellow laminate benchtop.

A look at the house before the renovation!

Christina Karras
25th of April 2024

Stafford Heights, QLD/Turrbal Country

Eight years after purchasing an old 1960s home, owner Lisa decided it was time to bring some retro magic back to the Brisbane property.

The house had some character already, but it was being overshadowed by a long list of maintenance issues — including electrical issues, plumbing problems, chipping paint, alongside new roofing, and improved waterproofing — which is why Lisa engaged the help of Paul Butterworth Architect to salvage the existing building.

And it’s a good thing she did. Under Paul’s guidance, the house has not only been saved from deteriorating, but improved for the years to come.

‘Most of the existing home was retained,’ Paul says. The house was painted inside and outside, the floors sanded, the existing roof was replaced, and the living area was extended to accommodate a larger dining space.

A key focus of the renovation was restoring the facade. The new entry mid-century-inspired terrace sets the tone for the resulting house with a breezeblock screen and V-shaped steel beams that mimic the geometric blue triangles now painted onto the ground-floor garage.

‘The new design is playful to reflect Lisa’s enthusiasm and passion for mid-century design,’ Paul says. ‘She referenced the Rose Seidler House north of Sydney designed by Harry Seidler, the El Dorado Motel from the Gold Coast (now demolished) and the mid-century modern homes that she had seen during her visit to Palm Springs, California’ Paul adds.

Lisa’s brief also asked to inject ‘fun and interesting’ colours into the design, and her favourite colour of yellow inspired a series of bold details in varying hues. The front door is now painted a playful chartreuse and there’s a matching-coloured square among the white-framed windows on the second-floor exterior.

Inside, the tired kitchen benchtop was swapped out for a ‘zingy’ yellow laminate, while retaining the original ‘60s floating island and charming joinery.

They even commissioned local artist Drapl to create a brilliant abstract mural on the expansive balcony that now serves as an indoor-outdoor hub of the home — making the most of its outlook across Moreton Bay, sea breezes, and Brisbane’s ‘sublime sub-tropical climate’.

‘The design has captured fantastic views which connect internal living spaces with the Brisbane landscape,’ Paul adds. He’s hopeful that the project’s success stands as a reminder of the inherent value of restoring these old homes.

‘They are a legacy for memory and a testament to the people that built them & the families that were born & raised in them,’ he says. ‘Even if the owner’s budget was enough to demolish the existing home & rebuild something new, we would not have done it.’

‘Lisa didn’t know how to ‘fix’ her home, but we helped curate her initiative into an outcome that fulfills her needs and enriches her lifestyle. The opportunities to create interesting outcomes for existing homes and homeowners are endless, we just need to ask the right questions.’

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