A Sleek Addition Hides Behind a Federation-Era Facade in Sydney

Heritage details cascade into a minimalist composition of glass and blackened timber in this renovation by Studio Prineas.

The humble setting of Cnr Virginia—with a bus stop and telephone pole just outside—adds comfortable authenticity to the Sydney residence, whose Federation-era facade sports two-toned brick and detailed tilework. In their renovation, Studio Prineas celebrated its historic character; Federation homes date from the turn of the 20th century when Australia was defining itself as a nation, and are often seen as symbols of national pride and prosperity.

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"Thankfully, very few of its original heritage features had been lost over the years," says Eva-Marie Prineas, the studio’s founder and principal architect—though the details were, she adds, "in need of some love." The team lovingly restored the facade, and inside, they stripped and repainted the ornate, pressed-tin ceilings and worked on the cast-iron fireplaces "to restore their former glory."

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To focus attention on the heritage elements, Studio Prineas kept furnishings to a minimum and painted walls and ceilings a bright white.

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The family bathrooms reflect this simplicity with white mosaic tiles and white reconstituted stone surrounds for the baths, accented with unobtrusive black steel shelving and fittings.

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In the powder room, primarily used by guests, Studio Prineas added what Prineas calls "an element of quiet luxury": a Henge tubular sconce made from natural brass that will patina over time.

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Staying true to the Federation footprint required some creative maneuvering. To deal with an irregularly shaped bedroom, the team designed a freestanding wardrobe. "Built-ins would have affected the proportions of the space and interfered with the ornate ceilings," says Prineas.

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Most significantly, to ensure the two-level addition fit within the outline of the original home, the team lowered the rear footprint, making the new construction invisible from the street.

The simplicity of the renovated interior gives the space a fresh and modern feel, which makes the walk down the transitional hallway into the airy and contemporary addition feel natural.

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Studio Prineas intended the addition—which encompasses an open-plan living, kitchen, and dining area at ground level, and a new bedroom and study nook on the upper floor—to be both stylistically distinct from, and yet subtly reflective of, the original home’s Federation features.

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Thus, the new rear roofline mimics and exaggerates the peak and dual depth of the original gables.

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Similarly, with a nod to the traditional veranda, Studio Prineas built the addition as a protected yet open space with sliding glass walls that provide full access to the garden and pool.

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The architects repeated the classic brick of the facade in half of the addition, sourcing the recycled, multi-hued brick  from a nearby brickyard in Alexandria in Sydney.  

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In contrast with the original rooms, extensive glass walls in the addition meant the team could rely on natural light to brighten the space rather than white paint.

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This allowed Studio Prineas to use darker design accents in the black-wood half of the addition. The black cabinets in the kitchen are Paperock, a sustainable building material that combines condensed layers of renewable paper bonded with resin. "It’s a matte finish," says Prineas, "and although a solid color, there is variation within the material that gives it a lightness and warmth." For the countertops and backsplash, the team chose the drama of stormy gray with locally sourced marble.

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The recycled brick addition is warmer, with exposed brick walls and gold-hued wood cabinets. 

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Throughout, Studio Prineas relied on locally sourced materials: brick, marble, and Australian blackbutt wood used on the deck. All these natural Australian products have, says Prineas, "a certain raw robustness of materiality."

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The furnishings, too, celebrates local artists and designers. "For this home," says Prineas, "we chose a Koskela rug for the main living room, handmade ceramics for the kitchen, and a Quadrant sofa for the smaller living room in the original part of the house."

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Finally, the garden, filled with the same native plants that grow in the   bushland behind the home (and most likely grew there over 100 years ago when Federation homes were first in vogue), acts as a unifying force between the old design and the new.

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Related Reading: 

A Revamped Terrace House in Sydney Is an Audiophile’s Dream

Delightful Curves Abound in This Revamped Cottage in Sydney

Project Credits

Architect:   Studio Prineas / @studioprineas

Builder: Connect Constructions /  @connectconstructions

Structural Engineer:  Partridge / @patridge_engineers

Interior Design:  Studio Prineas

Lighting Design:  Studio Prineas

Cabinetry Design:  Refalo Joinery 

Furniture Source (majority):  Koskela  / @koskela_

Photography:  Chris Warnes / @chriswarnes

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