An Architect Opens a 1920s Queenslander to the Great Outdoors
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An Architect Opens a 1920s Queenslander to the Great Outdoors

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By Jen Woo
Architect Scott Petherick's Australian abode is defined by period details, clean contemporary lines, and airy spaces that open to gardens.

In the quaint suburb of Paddington in Brisbane, Australia, trees line the streets and modern architectural wonders sit alongside charming, rustic abodes. When architect Scott Petherick set out to design his home in the neighborhood, he knew certain elements  would play a major role. It would need to accommodate the changing demands of a family for the next 20 years, have core living spaces on a single level, and provide a separate zone for his architecture studio.

Old meets new with wood paneling, white brick, and upturned eaves. 

Old meets new with wood paneling, white brick, and upturned eaves. 

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Petherick transformed an original 1920s 3,121-square-foot Ashgrovian property into Jacaranda House—a family haven that doubly stands as a design statement.

He wanted to preserve the core of the building, maintaining the inherent elegance of the Queenslander. "This meant picking up on the traditional Queenslander language of expressing the construction method, and featuring beautiful timber work," he explains. 

The studio is clean, modern, and airy for busy work days. 

The studio is clean, modern, and airy for busy work days. 

His first challenge was to adapt the vertical space, which is set a sloping block. He carved into the hill under the house to create two planes. His studio and workshop are kept cool by the thermal mass of rock and earth encasing it, while the living spaces are open to cross-breezes. Both areas spill out onto lush gardens and lawns with a series of green terraces that tie the planes together. This he admits, was the most difficult part of the design. 

Intricate trim and paneling on the walls exude Queenslander style. 

Intricate trim and paneling on the walls exude Queenslander style. 

Furnishings meld minimalist lines with period details. 

Furnishings meld minimalist lines with period details. 

"The hardest part was working in section to get both planes of living to work together," says Petherick. "Maintaining sight lines into the jacaranda tree (while blocking the northern sun) was carefully investigated. Getting the correct angle and detailing of the upturned eave was crucial."

A peek into the studio and stairs going up into the living areas.

A peek into the studio and stairs going up into the living areas.

Doors in the kitchen open up the space to the outdoors.

Doors in the kitchen open up the space to the outdoors.

Upstairs, a family kitchen plays on (and replaces) the generous deck typically found in a Queenslander home. Upon entering the home, this is the last room on the level to be revealed—a clear, contemporary addition that Petherick calls the finale. Large timber sliding doors retract almost entirely on two sides to form an indoor/outdoor kitchen garden pavilion.

Geometric forms add a modern touch to the home. 

Geometric forms add a modern touch to the home. 

Upturned filigree eaves allow sunlight to seep into the spaces underneath.

Upturned filigree eaves allow sunlight to seep into the spaces underneath.

Queenslanders typically have large eaves, although they often reduce sight lines and natural light. Petherick opted for a filigree, upward-sloping rendition.

"In partnership with the giant jacaranda that encases the garden, the eve achieves a beautiful filter of sunlight into the kitchen, creating a gentle, ever-changing pattern of light and shade in this garden kitchen." 

The soothing bedroom juts out slightly from the rest of the house, creating a courtyard outside. 

The soothing bedroom juts out slightly from the rest of the house, creating a courtyard outside. 

Clean lines and organic hues permeate the bathroom. 

Clean lines and organic hues permeate the bathroom. 

Countering the openness of the living spaces, the master bedroom extends slightly out from the original floor plan, creating an intimate courtyard at the south end of the kitchen. Adding to the sense of coziness is a fireplace nestled into an external wall that closes off the "garden room." 

An external fireplace offers a cozy place to gather outside. 

An external fireplace offers a cozy place to gather outside. 

To transition between new and old, indoor and outdoor, Petherick weaves together multiple materials (including brick, timber, and concrete) and spatial elements. He forms a consistent language of horizontal planes that play on vertical space while allowing the addition to float on the hillside.  

Related Reading: This Breezy Australian Bungalow Caters to a Family’s Evolving Needs 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Scott Petherick of SP Studio

General Contractor: Rycon Construction

Structural Engineer: Westera Partners

Cabinetry: Mivis Joinery