A Sunny Transformation Of A California Bungalow With A Lush Central Courtyard

It’s hard to believe this light-filled Melbourne home was born from the foundations of a dark, weatherboard California bungalow.

In the hands of Bryant Alsop Architects, the south-facing pad was completely reoriented to embrace the northern light created by a landscaped central courtyard and garden.

Emily Holgate

A lush, central courtyard provides an abundance of natural light throughout the home.

The garden also creates a seamless transition between outside and in.

A contemporary, open-plan space complemented by warm, earthy tones.

The use of timber, including on the cathedral ceilings, was a large focus of the renovation.

Modern minimalism meets warmth in a space perfect for entertaining.

The stylish, stone kitchen is centred around a curved island bench.

It looks out onto the airy deck and central garden.

A light-filled breezeway connects the old and new parts of the home.

An open deck area, perfect for summer entertaining.

A second lounge where the old laundry once was.

Cosy interiors.

A third bedroom was also added where the old living room was, overlooking the courtyard.

The stylish, modern bathroom was completely transformed.

A dual-vanity ensuite was added to the main bedroom, as was a walk-in wardrobe.

The foundations of the front bedrooms remained the same while adding contemporary touches.

Original lead light, bay windows remained in one of the front bedrooms.

The original facade of the weatherboard, California bungalow home.

Emily Holgate
3rd of June 2024
Interior Design

Brunswick, VIC/Wurundjeri Country

A two-year renovation saw this tired and dark California bungalow transformed into a modern dwelling filled with an abundance of natural light — all thanks to a central courtyard.

Situated on a leafy street in Brunswick, the original weatherboard house was completely gutted to allow for an extensive makeover by the team at Bryant Alsop Architects. But it was no easy feat.

The project called for the south-facing property to be re-oriented, turning the house back on itself to embrace the rear northern light.

‘By extending the property to the rear, we not only achieved a northern aspect but also created a focal central courtyard and a smaller decked area for entertaining, offering enjoyable outdoor spaces accessible from both the original section of the house and the new extension,’ Bryant Alsop director Sarah Bryant explains.

The framework of the two front bedrooms remained, while the original living room, kitchen and bathroom were completely reconfigured, allowing space for an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe off the main bedroom, plus a new third bedroom overlooking the courtyard.

A central breezeway now runs alongside the circular courtyard garden on one side. On the other, a breezy deck area and second lounge room now stand where the original laundry once was.

“[The] breezeway connects the old and new in the house, flooding the home with natural light, views and greenery,” says Sarah.

Cathedral ceilings in the open-plan living, kitchen and dining area elevate the space without taking away from the cosiness created by warm, earthy tones – a result of Bryant Alsop’s focus on timber in tandem with elegant interiors by R&Co. Design Studio.

A minimalist and contemporary feel is also enhanced by the use of pale stone in the kitchen, where a curved island bench is the centrepiece.

‘The successful blending of existing heritage details with contemporary style has created a seamless and harmonious balance between the old and new, with the use of timber and a textured neutral palette throughout adding warmth and timeless character,’ Sarah adds. ‘Clever spatial planning and the integration of the central courtyard garden in this project was central to its success.’

Given the airy, light-filled result of the renovation, it’s hard to imagine the dark home that once occupied the property — a true testament to the value of northern light.

Latest Stories

Recent Architecture