Dark, cramped and "a fortune to heat in winter," Phil and Rebecca’s home in Brunswick West, a suburb of Melbourne, had been in dire need of a renovation before they met Megan Norgate, founding director and principal designer at studio Brave New Eco.
Inspired by a Green Magazine feature on Megan’s renovated house, the couple tapped the Northcote–based designer for an eco-minded remodel of their 1,819-square-foot abode.
Poorly configured renovations by former owners had turned the house into a labyrinth of small and dark rooms.
As avid gardeners, the homeowners sought a energy-efficient retrofit that would bright natural light back into their home and open it up to views of their backyard permaculture garden.
The transformation began with converting a small, dark bedroom that had been wedged in the center of the home into an open study that connects the entrance, lounge, and the three bedrooms to the living spaces in the rear.
The new living areas are housed in a 345-square-foot, highly insulated extension—set on a concrete slab and oriented along the northern axis to follow passive solar principles—and include a kitchen, walk-in pantry, bathroom, laundry, and dining room.
"Everything used in the project has been considered for its ability to be reused, recycled, or repurposed at the end of its life in the home," notes Megan. "We prioritized the use of local and recycled materials where ever possible."
Improved energy-efficient measures brought the home from a 1.4 to a 4.2 rating in the first-rate 5-thermal performance assessment.
To further reduce the home’s energy footprint, a 3.12 kW solar photovoltaic panel, rainwater harvesting tank, and low-flow water fixtures were installed.
"We involved the client in the process of having customized elements fabricated locally, introducing them to craftspeople and makers," says Megan.
"This creates happiness-evoking experiences that underpin the client’s memory of the renovating experience, and give the elements in the space that extra personal significance."
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