Set on a tight, five-meter-wide plot in Annandale, an inner suburb of Sydney, the 100-year-old cottage that Carter Williamson Architects was tasked with renovating posed a challenge: The firm needed to maintain the heritage exterior within a row of eight homes from the same era—while giving the interiors ample living space and lots of light.
The home, named Concrete Blonde, required careful planning, and is organized to utilized every inch of space as it unfolds like an "architectural jewelry box."
The homeowners, Irene and Peter, wanted to create a place where they could gather with friends and family, as well as a calm retreat cushioned from street noise.
The firm preserved the heritage front porch, which opens to a hallway lined with original molding and an arched form which now serves as a subtle transition into the updated interiors. The renovated rear portion of the home is connected to the front bedroom and new bathroom via a split staircase leading up to the main bedroom and a studio, and down to the living space. A tiled and plant-ﬁlled courtyard divides the dwelling’s public and private spaces, with one side bordering the main living area and the other adding a window to the bathroom and the stairs.
The open-plan living space ﬂows from the step-down entry into the kitchen and dining area straight into the back yard. "These four spaces— outdoor, kitchen, living, and dining—come together as one, creating the heart of the home," explains architect and project lead Ben Peake. Light filters through multiple sources including an arch-shaped void that references the curved form in the front hallway.
The kitchen and dining area were designed as a unit with a long, custom dining table that runs parallel to the marble-topped kitchen island. Built-in, green leather bench seating was efficiently designed by the firm as part of the island. Large black sliding glass doors connect the kitchen to the rear courtyard. fully stitching the space together with the outdoors.
The material palette is a light and elegant while providing a mix of textures. There are board-formed concrete ceilings, pale brick walls, natural wood paneling, marble, and terrazzo. The custom-made kitchen cabinetry is finished in Dulux White Cabbage, a light shade of green paint, picking up the greenery of the "native gumtrees swaying in the backyard." Shades of green run playfully throughout the entire home like a recurring theme—a nod to the color of the home’s original kitchen—and a reference to Irene and Peter’s nostalgia for the homes belonging to their extended family in Greece.
Sustainability and attention to waste reduction was also a priority for both the homeowners and the firm and helped influence the material palette. The use of concrete, marble, and brickwork allows the home to regulate its temperature throughout the hot summer months, trapping cool air inside the home; during the winter months, warm air stays within in the home. "Build it once, build it right" is a notion that sums up the ethos of the project, and the conscious use of robust, quality materials ensures that the century-old house will stand another hundred years.
Shop the Look
More by Carter Williamson Architects:
Architect of Record: Carter Williamson Architects / @carterwilliamson_architects
Builder/General Contractor: Andrew Burton Construction
Structural Engineer: Cardno, Cosmo Farrinola
Landscape Design: Melissa Wilson, Landscape Architect
Interior Design: Carter Williamson
Cabinetry Design/Installation: Craft Kabinets
Furniture Maker: Will Brennan Designs
Get the Renovations Newsletter
From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.