David and Bec Smith had a clear vision for their home renovation in Sydney’s Drummoyne. They were dreaming of an ultra-contemporary house with a striking architectural extension. The extension would overlook a backyard retreat with plenty of room for their young family to play and unwind. At the same time, they needed to respect the area’s history. So, they planned to give the front of the house a modern renovation, while keeping within the bounds of the heritage requirement.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
That is, until a letter from the original builders fell out from behind an architrave – stopping the renovation in its tracks. The letter read:
“This building was erected by M. M. Haiges.
Carpenter James Haston
Plasterers Thomas Smart & Henry Glossip
Painter M. Swan
Remember us all whoever finds this. 1902.”
It was a message in a bottle – or, rather, a wall – that they couldn’t bear to ignore. Suddenly, preserving the 114-year-old building became crucial to the renovation of the front of the house.
A CHANGE OF MIND, OR HEART
David and Bec decided instead to focus their efforts on the architectural extension at the rear of the house. Bec had been collecting pictures of cantilevered looks from magazines, while David loved the look Axon™ vertical groove cladding. Together, their vision for a contemporary “floating box” was born.
“You want to have a story that goes through the house"
- Kane Harrison, Builder
WHERE OLD MEETS NEW
Bec and David envisioned walking through the polished timber hallway of the old home, with its high ceilings, restored rosettes and arches. In an “Alice in Wonderland experience”, the home would then transform –– opening up into a modern, light-filled, open-plan living area.
Together with their builder, Kane Harrison, Bec and David were able to bring their vision to life and achieve the exact look that they dreamed of – a slick, minimalist addition that also functions as a family friendly living area perfect for entertaining as well as relaxing.
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“You want to have a story that goes through the house,” says Kane, who created that story for the Smiths by expertly merging the original heritage story of the home with the family’s own story via the modern addition – it was a collision of worlds, lives, experiences and looks.
While doing the groundwork, Kane removed some sandstone blocks but felt that the light coloured Sydney sandstone was too beautiful to waste. It also had historical significance, having most likely been sourced from Sydney’s Centennial Park in the late 1800s. Kane insisted that these blocks become a feature wall in the addition, linking old and new. Nestled between the downlights and polished concrete floor the sandstone wall is stunning and reminiscent of the home’s heritage.
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
The cladding carefully adjoins the orginal brickwork creating a dynamic contrast that signifies the juxtaposition between old and new, while the dramatic floating second level extension is precisely engineered and well detailed. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom extension is cantilevered over the pool and outdoor living area, offering shade and weather protection as well as a modern visual impact.
The Axon cladding, with 400mm groove spacing, is painted in Dulux Stepney grey and features a subtle vertical groove reminiscent of vertical joint timber. While Axon comes in a range of profiles including Axon Cladding Smooth 133m and Axon Cladding Grained 133m, the wider, smoother profile works with the geometric look of the home, synonymous with modern, minimalist design.
It cleverly hides the roofline and solar panels, giving the modern section its clean lines and angles in keeping with the ‘boxy-house’ trend. And, because Axon cladding is made from 9mm thick premium fibre cement, it’s extremely durable and weathers well, which makes it a low-maintenance option for the Smiths.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Kane worked with Bec on an interior design that works seamlessly throughout the house. The grey and white colour palette is interrupted by beautiful black fittings, a very contemporary design trend. It works well because the fittings in the old part of the house are black copper, while in the modern part of the house they’re contemporary black powder-coated metal.
The humble heritage facade of this Drummoyne cottage hides an amazing contemporary home that offers Bec and David not just a house, but a home that they can raise their family in. It’s quality workmanship that David and Bec Smith, with their builder Kane Harrison, should be remembered for in the next century. Hopefully they’ve hidden a note behind a cornice.