A Tropical Renovation Lifts an Australian Home Into the Treetops
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A Tropical Renovation Lifts an Australian Home Into the Treetops

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By Kate Reggev
A striking addition draws nature, light, and fresh air into a home just outside of Brisbane.

The suburbs of Brisbane, Australia, feature many prewar, wood-framed cottages with sheltered outdoor spaces like porches and verandas. Over time, as families grew and owners sought extra space, these indoor/outdoor rooms were increasingly enclosed, creating dark interiors that are devoid of fresh air and natural light.

Such was the case for a family’s home in the suburb of Clayfield—so they asked Fouché Architects for a contemporary renovation that would open up the "landlocked" rooms that had been walled in over time.

Fouché Architects reorganized the home’s interior layout and added a new addition to the rear of the home.

Because of the slope of the site, the main level of the home is the upper floor, which houses the kitchen, living room, dining room, and large outdoor porch. 

Fouché Architects had several goals in mind for the renovation and addition—they sought to retain the "charming elements of yesteryear" while adapting the home "to drastically increase livability." They also wanted to address the lack of natural light and ventilation, and strengthen the relationship between the trees in the backyard and the living areas.

The elevated porch captures prevailing breezes and provides close-up views of the mature trees in the backyard.

To achieve these goals, the architects reorganized the interior spaces to take advantage of existing exposures and windows, creating what they describe as "a plan that is free-flowing and conducive to a modern lifestyle."

The light-filled kitchen opens onto the indoor/outdoor area of the porch and features white and wood cabinets.

The kitchen, located on the upper level of the home, spans part of the existing home and part of the new addition. It opens directly to the living room, which in turn opens to an outdoor seating and eating area that acts as the focal point of the upper level. Accessed through large floor-to-ceiling glass doors, the patio brings lots of natural light and ventilation to the upper floor.

Louvered windows in the kitchen and bathroom provide natural ventilation. The floor and countertop have a natural, organic texture to them that ensures the space feels homey and modern rather than cold and clinical.

The kitchen also takes advantage of natural light, with both a skylight and a large picture window over the sink area. Apertures in the kitchen, living room, and dining area all look out onto the lush backyard, which is filled with mature trees.

The living room features wood flooring and vertical wood paneling—finishes found throughout the home.

The new extension contrasts with the traditional elements of the original bungalow. The interiors are finished in light and dark painted surfaces, with liberal use of New Guinea rosewood and spotted gum—local species that give the home warmth and personality.

The threshold between the indoor and outdoor space is marked by the wood band at the walls and ceiling, where doors slide open and closed.

The walls throughout the home are covered with board-and-batten wood paneling, painted a light gray for a touch of personality but still enough lightness to brighten the spaces. The bathrooms feature black hexagonal tile and wood vanities that match the cabinetry in the kitchen.

The public spaces are located on the upper floor, while most of the bedrooms and full bathrooms are located on the lower floor.

The master bedroom has a small study, outfitted with a wood countertop that matches the wood window and frame.

The master bathroom 's hexagonal tiles create a moody atmosphere in the otherwise light-filled home. Glass louvered windows provide natural light and airflow to the space.

A view from the kitchen toward the stairway showcases extra storage space for cookbooks and a countertop area for prep.

Vertical wood elements surrounding the staircase are emphasized by cables that stretch down to the lower level.

The new addition extends over the lower level, creating a covered space below for storage.

The car port shares part of the lower level, providing easy, direct access to the bedrooms.

Keith Street House floor plans

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