A Neglected Bungalow Transformed To Bring The Outdoors In

The foundations were solid, but the state of this century-old California bungalow in Brunswick West was barely habitable when Architektura took on the renovation project.

By stripping it back to bare bones, they were able to create an inviting and elegant structure in its place. The result is a cosy family home reminiscent of a cabin in the woods.

Emily Holgate

Spotted gum decking creates a seamless transition between outside and in, with the deck becoming part of the living room.

Different tones of timber create a cosy and inviting space.

Integrated seating below the pine trees, with space for firewood storage, makes a cosy sitting area for a winter fire. It also stays cool in summer.

Classic white walls retain the sense of space but sit against natural tones and feature walls.

A cosy space to relax by the small fireplace in the living area.

Be amongst nature whilst staying warm inside.

Hand-Patina steel stairs contrast the timber cladding and warm tones throughout the home.

A sleek and modern kitchen for a growing family.

Plenty of light provided by large windows looking out onto the surrounding greenery.

The steel bunny on a swing was made by the Architektura team as a gift to the clients.

The bathrooms take a restrained approach but maintain the textural concept of the home with vertical finger tiles and fluted glass.

The property is now an inviting and attractive structure for local families passing along the south cobblestone laneway.

The facade was brought back to its original glory with restored leadlight windows, a custom spotted gum pivot door, and textural tiling to the original columns.

Emily Holgate
6th of June 2024

Brunswick West, VIC/Wurundjeri Country

It was, as they say, the worst house on the best street. Years of neglect had made this century-old California bungalow barely habitable, and its reputation was equally in tatters.

But after a young family took over the Brunswick West property and engaged the team at Architektura to completely repair, update and improve the home by stripping it back to foundations, the old home has been transformed it into a contemporary dwelling that — for the first time in years — adds to the street’s value.

‘The site was overgrown with weeds and collapsing fences, the rear was almost completely concrete and a tree was growing through the rear stairs,’ Architektura design director Aiste Strazdaite says. ‘Bright red tiles and palm prints to the bathrooms and tonal yellow walls with holes, cracks, patches and crumbling plaster throughout were the starting blocks.’

But she explains that the structure was solid and the home’s hardwood frame had endured the test of time. It also came with existing period elements like the front leadlight windows which were saved, rebuilt and reinstalled to bring the weatherboard facade back to its original glory.

Across 12 months, the Architektura team worked to reimagine the home whilst celebrating its history and reinstating as much of the existing structure as possible. The brief was ‘respectful modernity’ — think modern flourishes to enhance period features.

Aiste says, ‘from the street the project presents as a renovated period dwelling.’

However a closer inspection reveals gentle suggestions of the modern renovation approach — from the custom spotted gum pivot door, deck and porch soffit, to the textural tiling supporting the original columns at the facade.

Another key aspect of the revamp was to bring the outside nature in. Architektura worked to complement the once dense northern row of pine trees by creating a cosy family home reminiscent of a cabin in the woods, thanks to materials such as charred timber cladding and warm ash timber windows.

Directly below the pines, they built integrated seating with firewood storage space for cosy winter nights. But Aiste says this area is also her clients’ dining space of choice in summer, as it remains cool even on hot days.

‘The home feels and functions larger than its footprint with multiple spaces of work, play and dwell, and with softer thresholds, the outside becomes in,’ she adds. ‘In warmer weather the home is opened right up and the deck and outside become part of the living room.’

Gone are the days where the property was an eyesore for families passing by the south cobblestone laneway — now, an inviting and elegant structure stands in its place, one that can be appreciated for decades to come.

Latest Stories

Recent Architecture