Real Estate

Renovating, New York, Manhattan, Ascot, character home, interior designer, brick house

Written by The ReReport

BRINGING a touch of Manhattan chic to old money Ascot was always going to be a bold move.

But Ross and Rachelle McLennan have managed to pull it off.

The Brisbane couple is responsible for transforming a dated, 1980s brick home into a modern marvel on a blue-chip street lined with character homes.

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“I wanted a New York/Manhattan style,” Mrs McLennan said.

Think blonde Oak flooring, black, aluminium finishes and clean lines.

“Nothing fussy,” she said.

The McLennans bought the property at 19 Upper Lancaster Rd, Ascot in mid-2016 and spent a year renovating it.

Mrs McLennan, an interior designer, said she saw the home’s potential on first inspection.

“It hadn’t been on the market long — maybe a week — and when I walked in, I just knew,” she said.

“It just had the right feel to it.”

What followed has been a year-long labour of love for Mrs McLennan and her husband, who is a refrigeration mechanic.

“We got stuck into it straight away,” Mrs McLennan said.

“We did some sketch layouts of what we wanted and engaged architect, Renee Dunn.

“I handsketched all the joinery and then gave it to her.”

They gutted the interior of the house, added an entire new wing to the western side of the house, a separate games room out the back and a BBQ pavilion.

“I think what first drew me to the property was that when you walked out the back it was totally secluded and private,” Mrs McLennan said.

“I just wanted a massive entertaining area out the back.”

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The entrance to the house was originally around the side and the driveway up the back, so to make the most of the 834 sqm block, they moved the garage to the front of the property.

They moved the entry to the front and created a void using banks of glass.

“We wanted to create more of a defined entry to the house,” Mrs McLennan said.

“We also wanted that wow factor when you walk up the stairs and look out to the back.”

The entire upstairs and downstairs areas were remodelled and redesigned.

Up the stairs to the main living level, a formal sitting room features an original fireplace cladded in stone, a wall of glass and a balcony capturing views of the district.

The master bedroom is in the same position upstairs, but with an ensuite and his and her walk-in wardrobes added on.

There is also a second bedroom, study, main bathroom and steam room for eight people on this level.

“We’ve got so many offices, which makes it perfect for operating a business from home,” Mrs McLennan said.

Downstairs, there are three bedrooms — one for each of their teenage sons — another bathroom, ensuite, study and rumpus room.

The kitchen is also in its original location on this level, but has been completely redone using walnut cabinetry, black aluminium framed lights, Calacatta marble bench tops and splashback tiles, dual Ilve ovens, a Bosch integrated dishwasher and bar fridges, and a butler’s pantry.

The open-plan kitchen, dining and living area flows out to the pool area and backyard through bi-fold doors.

The alfresco patio comes with an outdoor kitchen complete with built-in BBQ and overlooks the glass-framed pool and a pool house.

They have even created an attic in the ceiling for storage, which can be accessed through the upstairs study.

Other features include zoned, ducted airconditioning, underfloor heating in the bathrooms, and surround-sound Bose speakers.

Travertine stone tiles in a ‘linen’ shade have been incorporated throughout the house, the walls painted off-white and particular attention paid to creating ambient lighting.

“It’s a neutral palette that lends itself to accent colours,” Mrs McLennan said.

“I’ve got oranges and pinks thrown in, but you could bring in anything really.

“Lighting is always a high priority for me — I just think it makes a place.”

The only major hurdle the McLennans had to overcome — apart from “blowing the budget” — emerged at the start of the renovation process.

“There were massive boulders out the back around the pool, so that was an engineering feat to remove those,” Mrs McLennan said.

“We weren’t sure if the wall was going to collapse, so we had engineers involved and we put in extra drainage beyond what we needed.

“We put in a new retainer wall to make the pool bigger.”

Mrs McLennan said it was time to move on to their next renovation project, but they would miss the home.

“It’s a beautiful quiet place to live in and in the catchment for Ascot State School,” she said.

“You get beautiful breezes because it’s quite elevated and views out to Moreton Bay and looking north east.”

The property is being marketed by Damon Warat and Dwight Ferguson of Ray White – Ascot and is for sale with a price guide of $3.5 million.


Time taken: 1 year

Total spend: $1.5m

Approx. end valuation: $3.5m

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