Like hermit crabs, we tend to outgrow our homes. While the crabs’ only option is to trade up, we thankfully have other ways to achieve a little more living space. The best way to add living area to your existing home depends on both the type of home you’re starting with, and the preferred approach of your local council.
With an older or heritage home you have to give careful consideration to whether you are going to carry the period style through or create a clear divide between old and new through a very contemporary addition. In some council areas that choice may be made for you, with some preferring a traditional style, and others requiring a clear delineation between old and new to maintain the integrity of the original structure.
Starting with the original home itself, make sure you understand what you’re working with by finding out when and in what period and style your home was built. Whilst some houses may be part of the same period, there can be real differences in style and inclusions. Begin with some comprehensive research so that when you’re restoring your home you’re reinstating the correct details and not forcing features on to the home that were never intended in the first place.
An example of this is wrought iron lacework and carved timber fretwork. They look best on their original facades yet could be well out of place on a modern or even faux-traditional addition. Colour schemes, on the other hand, are far more flexible. Keeping them simple and understated allows them to work in both modern and traditional applications, while a deliberate contrast, or a combination of the two, allows you to pay homage to the past while placing your own stamp onto the restoration or addition.
Sawtooth House by Adriano Pupilli Architects (pictured above) uses the continuation of the same roofing material and colour scheme to unite the original house with the new extension. This home features a stunning traditional facade with original heritage trim and the modern extension has been subtly tucked onto the rear of home to modernize and enlarge the space without impacting the streetscape. This has been achieved through both sympathetic design in the roofline, and by using the same roofing material and colour across the whole build – so the view from the street gives little clue as to the difference in styles from the front to the back.
In a completely different approach, you will find that some of the most successful buildings that combine two very different styles, have a boundary between the old and new – which is expressed by a change of exterior materials. Hunters Hill House by Joshua Mulders Architects (pictured below) is a perfect example of this concept. The rear extension uses strong colours and bold finishes that you can see sprinkled through the original part of the house to give hint as to what’s to come in the modern extension. This is also a great example of combining a period façade of weatherboard cladding and corrugated steel roofing with a contemporary version of the same material, COLORBOND® steel in a standing seam style profile, to unite the old with the new. This creates a strikingly architectural look whilst limiting the amount of additional materials and colours added to the house.
Where an old home would likely contain separated, modestly sized rooms, new additions can be wonderfully high and wide, with large internal spans supported by structural steel allowing for vast open-plan living spaces. Contemporary additions can also feature soaring ceilings in line with the heights of older buildings, but with the benefit of large windows and retractable doors that remove the barriers between outside and in. Mary Street House designed by Georgina Wilson Architects (pictured below) is a great example of using large windows and doors to give a better flow into the outdoors and allows more light into the interior living areas. In this project they beautifully retained some of the traditional fixtures like the weatherboard cladding (picture #2 below) on the original house but modernised this with a contemporary colour palette, that was continued into the new extension (picture #1 below).
This approach really does allow for the best of both worlds: old school charm and detail in bedrooms, libraries, studies and entrances, whilst in the new extension you enjoy the contemporary lifestyle benefits of open plan kitchens, dining and living spaces connecting seamlessly to exterior entertainment areas, backyards and pools.
There’s grace and gorgeousness in detailed ceilings and cornices, beautiful timber work, corbels, skirtings and architraves. There is a huge opportunity to bring old school glamour to a home by simply finding and reinstating the correct period details. If you desire a contemporary look, you can still achieve that within a period-appropriate restoration by including modern furniture and fittings, especially within bathrooms and kitchens.
If you instead decide to continue the more traditional look with an extension, you can also replace your roof material so that the entire new roofline is united rather than trying to match or patch the existing one, which can give equally patchy results. To the surprise of many, Hamptons Farmhouse by Indah Island (pictured below) was not a completely brand new build but in fact two wings were added onto an existing (and very old) brick farmhouse. The new additions were built onto the east and west side of the original 1860’s farmhouse and all structures were united using the same roofing material on the exterior of the home and colour palette on the inside.
You can achieve a traditional design with corrugated roofing in any number of COLORBOND® steel colours to complement the existing exterior walls and the overall colour scheme. By carrying on the traditional exterior of a home you have an opportunity for the house to look like it has always been the size and form it takes on with your new addition. Retaining or introducing special historic elements such as half round gutters to enhance the architectural detail, fretwork, iron lace, bricks & stucco walls married in with the new corrugated roof will retain a historic feel. Whether you’re creating a larger traditional home or adding a contemporary structure to an older one, this type of renovation project is remarkably exciting to undertake. The judicious use of external cladding materials such as COLORBOND® steel can allow for both sympathetic and contrasting results, either of which can help make your home an enviable inclusion in your street and suburb.
- Sawtooth House designed by Adriano Pupilli Architects features COLORBOND® steel Windspray® in a mixture of LYSAGHT profiles - CUSTOM ORB ACCENT® 21 and CUSTOM ORB ACCENT® 35. Photos by Simon Whitbread.
- Hunters Hill House designed by Alchemy Architecture features COLORBOND® steel Night Sky® in LYSAGHT LONGLINE 305® profile. Photos by Luc Redmond.
- Mary Street House designed by Georgina Wilson Architects features COLORBOND® steel Shale Grey™ in a standing seam profile was used for the cladding and COLORBOND® steel Shale Grey™ in a corrugated profile for the front of house roofing (not shown). Photos by Noel McLaughlin.
- Hamptons Farmhouse by Indah Island features COLORBOND® steel Surfmist® Matt in a traditional corrugated profile.