20 Impressive Australian Homes That Bring the Outdoors In

These sun-filled dwellings blur the boundaries between the interior spaces and their surroundings.
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From Perth to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and beyond, these Aussie residences demonstrate what it means to optimize a home for indoor/outdoor living.

A Multitiered Addition With a Lush Courtyard Revives a Federation-Style Melbourne Home

Melbourne architectural studio WALA revived a Federation-era bungalow with a two-level extension that incorporates a rear garden and addresses the home’s flood-prone site. At the rear of the structure, full-height, sliding glass doors open to a raised deck that connects to a self-contained pavilion with a study and second living room. The large, rear courtyard is anchored by a Japanese maple tree that works to harmonize the old and new buildings.

At the edge of Royal National Park in the beachside hamlet of Bundeena, architect Hannah Tribe designed her family’s 540-square-foot holiday home using prefab technologies. The minimalist, timber-clad exterior nods to local vernacular, keeping with fishing cottages prevalent in the region that stand in large gardens with their rectilinear forms. Passive heating and cooling are achieved through the thermal mass of the concrete slab that supports the modular frame—and by siting the house to allow breezes to flow through its floor-to-ceiling sliders.

A Melbourne family with three young sons called upon local practice Mitsuori Architects to expand their venerable Victorian home with a two-level rear addition. On the ground level, a spacious living, dining, and kitchen area opens to the patio and backyard through large sliding glass doors that feature a telescoping design, which means they fit into one another and can therefore maximize the opening to the outdoor space.

Brisbane studio Hogg & Lamb renovated this Queenslander cottage known as B&B Residence with a geometric, indoor/outdoor extension that connects to its subtropical setting. The interior spaces were designed to create an interesting geometry of interlinking planes that embrace and engage the raised grass courtyard on the northern edge of the family residence.  

Micka Etheridge, director of SPACEbuilt, expanded an 1980s home in Byron Bay for its new owners, Cheryl and James Kitchener. Today, the 2,422-square-foot house resembles a lowercase "h," with one side stretching back to the end of the property. The central living space features sliding glass doors that enable the owners to keep eyes on their young kids wherever they are.

Melbourne firm Megowan Architectural renovated this single-story, clapboard home known as the Pleated House. "The brief was to efficiently and cost effectively transform a light-starved weatherboard into an open and modern home with a good connection to the rear garden and a relaxed yet refined feel," say the architects. The bold roofline pays homage to a classic midcentury architectural form and also makes room for clerestory windows that flood the interiors with light. 

For the Bungalow 8 renovation in Melbourne, architecture and interior design studio Splinter Society’s main goal was to create "a more modern, free-flowing series of connected living spaces," while retaining "as much of the existing layout as possible." The angled roofline acts as a guide for the new arrangement of spaces. It also contributes to passive heating and creates a unique juncture between the interior and exterior.

For the renovation of the East Fremantle House in the suburbs of Perth, architect Nic Brunsdon added a rear extension that playfully mixes white stucco and warm timber. Within the 3,229-square-foot family residence, an airy common space, which Brunsdon refers to as "the garden room," features a massive sliding door that connects the interior with a sunny, green courtyard. 

Local prefabricated building specialists Modscape designed an energy-efficient extension for a Melbourne family residence wrapped in black-stained timber and blackbutt vertical cladding. On the first floor of the addition, light-filled living spaces overlook views of the backyard through floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors. Solar passive principles were applied and cross ventilation was optimized with access to natural light that pours through the double-glazed windows and thermal break frames. 

Taking inspiration from the popular Japanese film My Neighbor Totoro, Sydney firm CplusC Architectural Workshop renovated a four-bedroom family residence to celebrate the importance of human relationships and a connection with the natural world. A rear extension with a spacious, open-plan living area blends seamlessly with the outdoor deck and landscaped garden. 

Albert Mo, cofounder of Australian firm Architects EAT, designed the low-slung Bellows House using concrete masonry blocks throughout the exterior and interior spaces. The U-shaped, south-facing end of the residence encircles a private courtyard. On the home’s north end, the communal living spaces open to a garden where the family gathers and entertains.

When Zuzana Kovar and Nicholas Skepper got to work updating an aging Queenslander cottage for a young family in Brisbane, the first challenge was the home’s orientation. "We wanted to connect the interior of the house with its garden—a vital space for the family and their children, and one that the cottage previously turned its back on," says Kovar. Now, an updated layout orients the kitchen, dining, and living room toward the verdant garden, and sight lines through the house connect the indoor and outdoor areas.

Rob Kennon Architects reimagined a California-style bungalow for a family in Melbourne’s Elwood suburb, taking inspiration from renowned Australian architect Sir Roy Grounds’s Hill House, which features a circular, glass-walled courtyard within a square of solid brick walls. The single-story extension to Elwood Bungalow similarly encloses a circular courtyard with an artfully planted garden. Inside, the cost-effective material palette includes walls of recycled masonry and a concrete ceiling and floors that complement the original home.

Architect Polly Harbison expanded the 1940s home where her sister, Margot, resides with her family to include a new kitchen, a bedroom with an outdoor shower, and expansive garden views. In the addition’s main communal areas, floor-to-ceiling glass doors and wooden screens slide open completely, allowing Margot, Ewen, and their three daughters to get fresh air.

Studio Prineas extended a historic Federation home in Sydney to be stylistically distinct from—yet subtly reflective of—the original residence’s features. A sleek rear addition encompasses a new bedroom and study nook on the upper level. On the ground floor, sliding glass walls connect the open-plan living, kitchen, and dining area with the garden and pool. 

Architect Kim Bridgland of Edition Office designed a single-level dwelling for couple in the Australian gold rush town of Kyneton. The garden, which is accessible through sliding, wood-framed glass window walls in the common areas, takes center stage. The thermal mass of the recycled brick used for the walls, combined with cross ventilation, allows the home to be passively cooled. An air-exchange heat pump warms the floor slab in colder months.

For the redesign of this prewar worker’s cottage in Brisbane, Cavill Architects opted for a Mediterranean-like ambiance. The interior incorporates white stucco walls and large, sliding glass doors that fully integrate the compartmentalized living spaces into the lush garden setting.   

Architect Christopher Polly designed this two-floor addition to a modest, single-story home in Sydney. Polished concrete floors on the ground level extend into the garden, while cedar-framed sliding doors and windows provide generous views of the site’s prized jacaranda tree. 

Designed by Ben Callery Architects, this Melbourne extension incorporates renewable features including high levels of insulation, double glazing, and recycled and locally sourced materials. A corrugated-metal roof was designed to glide over the 1,650-square-foot, indoor/outdoor home.

Melbourne practice Studio Bright reincarnated a declining Edwardian into a contemporary family home with playful design details and a rear extension. The western perimeter contains a walled garden with a secondary entrance. Cream-colored LOHAS Nilo Rustic bricks clad the addition to remain "sympathetic yet differentiated" from the existing red-brick structure.

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