This 1930s Bungalow in Sydney Was Preserved in the Front and Updated in the Back

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Breaking architectural conventions associated with suburban housing, this family home in Sydney’s leafy North Shore has its more interesting side facing the rear garden—rather than the street.

In the 1930s in Australia, bungalows that were built in the Arts and Crafts style were often designed to have their decorative "face" looking toward the street. But New South Wales practice TRIBE Studio Architects, who was commissioned to renovate this house for a family of four, decided to try something different.   

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Instead of focusing on reworking the street-facing front wall of the house, they turned their attention to the back wall, and found a better way to connect the interiors with the beautiful garden. This allowed them to stay true to the suburban vernacular of gabled brick walls and a terra-cotta roof, while modernizing the back section of the house quite dramatically. 

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The architects cleared out the ground floor and created an open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area along an elongated section at the rear. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors were installed in this part of the house to connect the interiors with the spacious garden. This light-filled and highly-transparent half of the ground floor now serves as a shady extension of the lush green garden.   

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Bricks in five different colors, herringbone brick, and a brick sunburst over the front door pays homage to the house’s historical architecture. Sited at the front of the house is a formal living room with a herringbone fireplace. It also houses a master bedroom and study room, all of which retained most of their original defining details. Two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a recreational room were added to the upper level of the house. 

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TRIBE Studio chose a pale-toned, 1930s-inspired color palette and materials and finishings that refer to the house’s Arts and Crafts origins. Decorated with simple yet elegant items, this home is a celebration of suburban brick with a touch of Tudor and California bungalow.

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