written by:
photos by:
March 23, 2016
Originally published in Inspired Renovation
as
Party in the Back

A surprisingly modern addition transforms an 1880 bungalow in Adelaide, Australia, into a spacious and sensuous abode.

Modern backyard pool patio BBQ area

Though the front of this 1880s home in Adelaide, Australia, maintains a traditional facade due to strict heritage laws, the rear is modern eye candy at its best. See more of the home.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
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Traditional Victorian facade in Australia

Brammy and Kyprianou hardly touched the front of their house, an 1880 sandstone and brick Victorian with galvanized iron ornamentation.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
2 / 8
Backyard facade with Viridian ComfortPlus glass windows

The back, however, is a different story. The shape of the roof eave is designed to allow winter sun into the house while cutting out the hot summer sun.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
3 / 8
open dining and living room area with Koura pendant lamps

Brammy and Kyprianou hung Koura pendant lights by New Zealand designer David Trubridge above the dining area. Their organic forms and diamond-shaped shadows create intimacy in the vast space. Among Bilardo’s contributions were the black tulipwood cabinetry and ceiling and the cantilevered concrete countertop that appears to go through the glass wall.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
4 / 8
Il Bagno Alessi sink and toilet in master bathroom

Sinks and a toilet from Laufen’s Il Bagno Alessi line add a sculptural presence to the master bathroom.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
5 / 8
Underground wine cellar with a glass top

New Depths

Inspired by a local winery, George Kyprianou wanted a glass top on his subterranean wine cellar. The interior is lit, casting soft light into the living space at night and revealing the 132-year-old stone foundation. The three-quarter-inch glass lid sits flush with the floorboards; it opens with an ingenious device that Kyprianou devised using a 12-volt air compressor and a remote-controlled switch. When you push the button, the glass lifts just enough to be removed by hand.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
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Lofty living room with Viridian ComfortPlus glass windows

Those in Glass Houses…

…Should consider sustainability! Brammy and Kyprianou wanted the house to be as open and light as possible, but large expanses of regular glass can result in excessive winter heat loss and summer heat gain—and they couldn’t afford two stories of double-glazing. So they opted for Viridian ComfortPlus glass, which is coated with an insulated film that is energy-efficient, reduces sound, and filters UV radiation. viridianglass.com

Bladder Control

On such a small site there wasn’t much room left for a rainwater tank, which the couple wanted in order to reduce their water consumption (Australia has strict regulations due to drought). The solution is a clever PVC “water bladder” from Eco Sac concealed under the deck, which holds 3,000 liters of water collected from the roof and used to flush the home’s toilets and run the washing machine. ecoplanit.com.au, waterplex.com.au

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
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Modern bathroom renovations Danpalon roof

Bathed in Light

To help disperse light in the newly opened-up interior, the designers clad the roof over the guest bathroom with Danpalon, a translucent polycarbonate that brings in lots of softened natural light. The walls and door are frosted glass. Says Kyprianou: “You can’t see much through the glass—just silhouettes—so our guests don’t mind!” danpalon.com.au

Hung Up

With the budget running out toward the end of the project, Kyprianou wanted to avoid forking out for a custom-designed walk-in closet in the master bedroom. So he conceived of a simple and cheap storage solution: drilling holes through the wooden roof trusses and feeding inexpensive aluminum closet rods through. junolightinggroup.com

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
James Knowler Photography
8 / 8
Modern backyard pool patio BBQ area

Though the front of this 1880s home in Adelaide, Australia, maintains a traditional facade due to strict heritage laws, the rear is modern eye candy at its best. See more of the home.

Image courtesy of James Knowler Photography.
Project 
Brammy / Kyprianou Residence
Architect 

Looking at the traditional Victorian facade of Kylie Brammy and George Kyprianou’s home, you would never imagine it hid such a voluptuous and modern derrière. Physiotherapist Brammy and entrepreneur Kyprianou bought the North Adelaide house in 1999 because they loved its charm and location on the city fringe, close to parkland. Less desirable was its tiny kitchen, dark living spaces, and badly positioned toilet, just three feet from the dining table. Engaging both an architect and an interior designer to collaborate on a renovation and two-story extension, the couple managed to open up the interior and transform the back of the house into an improbably airy and light-filled retreat.

Traditional Victorian facade in Australia

Brammy and Kyprianou hardly touched the front of their house, an 1880 sandstone and brick Victorian with galvanized iron ornamentation.

Image courtesy of James Knowler Photography.
Kyprianou: The longer you live somewhere, the more you learn about its idiosyncrasies and potential. We lived here for several years before we started our renovation, which helped us understand what we wanted.

The rear of the original house was very dark, and functionally, the space just didn’t work. We love having friends and family over for dinner, but the tiny galley kitchen was only just big enough for two people to walk sideways past each other. There was only one bathroom—right next to the dinner table—so it was a bit uncomfortable when guests had to use it! We decided to open the whole rear of the house right up; it’s north facing, which here in Australia gives you beautiful sunshine all day long. We could see the potential in having a big, tall glass structure to let all the light and warmth in.

Around 2005 we approached Phil Harris from Troppo Architects, but they were too busy to take on a job with our modest budget. A couple of years later, we stayed in a Troppo-designed eco-resort in Broome; it had all the qualities we liked—sustainability, space, light, and ventilation. So Kylie called Phil again, and this time he agreed to come out and see us.

We bonded straight away. Unlike other architects we’d met, who came with their own set ideas, Phil sat down and asked us what we wanted. He came back with a little story he wrote about us—what we liked and who we were—so we were pretty chuffed. At that point we felt really comfortable with him, and he felt comfortable with us. We worked together really well.

Early on, Phil came up with the design that you see now. The original part of the house is only 20 feet wide, so we extended an additional three feet out to the boundary, which gave us room to put a light-filled guest bathroom and laundry in the middle of the original part of the house. The master bedroom floats on a mezzanine in the void above the living area, with a spacious en suite [bathroom] tucked behind it. To meet the local heritage requirements we had to mirror the roofline of our neighbors on the laneway side of the house, so the extension has a unique asymmetrical shape.

open dining and living room area with Koura pendant lamps

Brammy and Kyprianou hung Koura pendant lights by New Zealand designer David Trubridge above the dining area. Their organic forms and diamond-shaped shadows create intimacy in the vast space. Among Bilardo’s contributions were the black tulipwood cabinetry and ceiling and the cantilevered concrete countertop that appears to go through the glass wall.

Image courtesy of James Knowler Photography.
Kylie has a physio practice in an old warehouse in the city, designed by Susanna Bilardo from Enoki. We loved what she did there, so we got her to do the interior design of the house. Phil was happy to stand back and let Susanna work; she brought softness, comfort, and livability to the house, using lots of natural, warm materials like reclaimed timber and doors.

We also hung on to some original features of the house, like the historic facade and the original chimney. Our builder did a great job keeping the existing chimney upright when the walls came down around it. We love its wonky shape.

Brammy: I sensed the soul of the house the moment I walked through the front door at the first inspection. It had a story to tell—of happy lives and families—and we are continuing that story. As a physiotherapist, I realize the importance of life balance and our home helps to give this to us. It is simple, open, and flexible, and it supports our casual lifestyle.

Il Bagno Alessi sink and toilet in master bathroom

Sinks and a toilet from Laufen’s Il Bagno Alessi line add a sculptural presence to the master bathroom.

Image courtesy of James Knowler Photography.
George and I are both morning people. We love to wake up when the sun comes up and go to bed early at night. Our bedroom is up on the mezzanine level, making us feel like we are in a suspended tree house. At night we are so lucky to be able to see the stars and moon; we sleep so well up there.

Soil space is limited on our lot so I grow my veggies “secretly” among the other landscaping plants. I’ve planted lemons and oranges, espaliered along the fence that extends out behind the barbecue. I love our pool—it provides a “yin” element of cooling, moistening, and grounding to the house, in contrast to the warm and dry materials we’ve used elsewhere. I can actually touch the water from inside through the sash window at the end of the bench seat, which gives me a sense of serenity. Being connected to the environment is important to me.

Every time of the day feels beautiful here. In the winter, I try to be home for a few hours midday to enjoy the sunshine that streams in below the giant eave. We positioned the window seat in the northeast corner of the window so that as the sun goes down it catches the last rays. I often read there. When I stop and am still, the dogs love it, lying down below me on the floor.

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