The plans were drawn up and the architects had been appointed, but Kelly was feeling worried about her family’s planned renovation of their 1920s weatherboard home in Reservoir.
“We felt that the architects didn’t really seem that interested in who we were or how we lived,” she recalled. “It was our first experience with an architect so we weren’t sure what to expect, either.”
On the advice of a friend who had recently completed a renovation, Kelly called in John Liu and his team from Inbetween Architecture to ask their advice about the plans for their home.
“We were after a home that suited us now, but also offered enough space and flexibility as the kids got bigger,” she said.
Inbetween Architecture’s attention to detail and interest in how the family liked to live won her over.
The previous plans — essentially a standard boxlike addition to the rear of the home — were scrapped and Inbetween Architecture drew up a more subtle and suitable floorplan.
In the original part of the house, two bedrooms were retained and the dining room turned into a third bedroom.
The front porch became a walk-in wardrobe off the main bedroom and the front door was moved to the side of the house.
Mr Liu designed a central access to a large, new extension at the rear, which is spacious but not quite open plan.
“I don’t really like open-plan living, and I wanted zoned living that still has that feeling of being airy and spacious,” Kelly said.
To create this, Mr Liu added a study/second living area behind the kitchen, with each living space closed off with large sliding doors.
The kitchen was placed, unconventionally, at the centre of the room, to reflect the way the family likes to live.
“They told me that the kitchen was the heart of the home, where everyone gathers around to chat about their day, so we placed that at the centre,” Mr Liu said.
“I asked the family what their favourite time of day was and they told me it was in the morning, enjoying that first cup of coffee and reading the paper, so I placed the living area to the east to make the most of the morning sun.”
The rest of the house is a highly customised reflection of the family’s passions and daily habits.
The family keeps an array of animals — a dog, cat, guinea pig, rabbit and chooks — and there is a low window in the dining area where, at any point, you can look out and spy a creature darting past.
“It’s such a gorgeous bespoke touch that says, ‘This is your house’,” Kelly said.
Kelly added the bathroom tiles were hexagonal, like a beehive, in a nod to her husband, who keeps bees.
“You can see why they called our project ‘the urban barnyard house’,” she said.
Timber cladding was used on the rear of the new extension to chime with the backyard timber shed, while the old fireplace bricks from the original part of the house were incorporated into the new hearth at the rear.
“Our lives have animals and kids and muddy boots, so it was never designed to be a magazine-type house,” Kelly said. “It was designed as a house to live in.”
Postscript with owner Kelly
What first attracted you to the home?
It was the character, for sure, and the wooden floorboards, which we were able to renovate and keep, and the beautiful timber shed at the back.
Your favourite part of the house?
The way the kitchen is at the heart of the house and the way all the activity revolves around that area.
Savvy recent purchase?
I am obsessed with Mogo Pottery in NSW, so it would have to be one of their teapots that I recently bought and now use every day.
Where do you find great buys?
It’s a combination of vintage shops and hard rubbish, but also Kmart and a lot of ceramic and pottery shops.
Best party you’ve had here?
There hasn’t been one great event, but we have built a deck out the back and we regularly have friends over and enjoy entertaining at twilight.
Favourite piece of furniture?
Our mid-century dining table that badly needs rejuvenation, thanks to children’s slime on it.
Future plans for the home?
The deck is a little exposed, so we need to build some type of pergola or covering over the top of it and grow grape vines or wisteria on it to cover the deck from the elements.
What does home mean to you?
I think home is an oasis and, for us, somewhere we can live in the city but still give our children a sense of nature.