A Small Australian Cottage Becomes an Airy Gathering Hub

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By Melissa Dalton / Published by Dwell
When a couple needed more space for their weekly family dinners, local architects transform their tiny abode into an entertaining oasis.

It's no wonder when the owners of the 947-square-foot cottage hosted dinner with their extended family, everyone ended up in the yard. 

"We couldn't entertain in the old house because it was so small," explains the homeowner. "We would host backyard parties, front-yard parties, and side-yard parties, depending on the sun and where it was, and where the shade was." 

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The view of the added pavilion from the backyard. Wide apertures on this wall make for easy indoor/outdoor connection.

The view of the added pavilion from the backyard. Wide apertures on this wall make for easy indoor/outdoor connection.

To remedy this, Owen Architecture reorganized the home's interior with the addition of a rear pavilion that now hosts the ideal kitchen spot for entertaining, and flows effortlessly into all the outdoor spaces via both large and small openings. "Everywhere you walk, you're only a step from being outdoors," the owner notes. 

The garden room has a built-in bench and free-standing fireplace. This area works as overflow for the adjacent kitchen, which allows people to see the cook in action, yet still lounge. The living room is a bit more removed, located just two concrete steps away.

The garden room has a built-in bench and free-standing fireplace. This area works as overflow for the adjacent kitchen, which allows people to see the cook in action, yet still lounge. The living room is a bit more removed, located just two concrete steps away.

A close-up detail of the striking material connection between timber and concrete.

A close-up detail of the striking material connection between timber and concrete.

Now, the new kitchen is ideal for cooking big meals and socializing. White cabinetry and Carrara marble counters lend an airy feel.

Now, the new kitchen is ideal for cooking big meals and socializing. White cabinetry and Carrara marble counters lend an airy feel.

The kitchen window-seat overlooks the backyard garden.

The kitchen window-seat overlooks the backyard garden.

A courtyard on the other side of the kitchen makes the room feel as though it is surrounded by the outdoors. Double-height ceilings allow for a cut-out into the upper level, connecting upstairs and down.

A courtyard on the other side of the kitchen makes the room feel as though it is surrounded by the outdoors. Double-height ceilings allow for a cut-out into the upper level, connecting upstairs and down.

The open-backed portions of the upper cabinets reveal the marble tile backsplash.

The open-backed portions of the upper cabinets reveal the marble tile backsplash.

Concrete and timber meet again on the stairs that lead to the upper level.

Concrete and timber meet again on the stairs that lead to the upper level.

A view of the stairs through a window in the courtyard.

A view of the stairs through a window in the courtyard.

A new bathroom wing upstairs hosts private toilet and shower rooms, as well as separate spots for bathing and accessing the sink. It further pushes the theme of thoughtful material connections, using tile instead of concrete to contrast with the wood.

A new bathroom wing upstairs hosts private toilet and shower rooms, as well as separate spots for bathing and accessing the sink. It further pushes the theme of thoughtful material connections, using tile instead of concrete to contrast with the wood.

At the sink area is built-in storage and a floating glass medicine cabinet.

At the sink area is built-in storage and a floating glass medicine cabinet.

The angled tile floor-pad designates the entrance to the bathtub area.

The angled tile floor-pad designates the entrance to the bathtub area.

Project Credits:

Architect: Owen Architecture

Builder: Robson Construction

Structural Engineer: Westera Partners

Landscape Design: Dan Young Landscape Architect