David Boyle updates a Federation bungalow with a living pavilion in the garden.
This four-bedroom Federation bungalow on Sydney’s Lower North Shore gives the term “family home” a whole new meaning. One of the owners lived here from the age of two and now, thirty-two years on, he and his wife are bringing up two daughters, aged four and two, under the same moulded ceilings, cornices and arched hallways.
But there’s a major difference. While the front part of the house is largely as he knew it, with those defining features of the Arts and Crafts era intact (the house is in a heritage conservation area, so the facade could not be altered), a new pavilion on the back with sweeping curves and ingenious angles makes a revelatory statement.
The tired 1950s addition didn’t address the back garden, was poorly constructed, had low ceilings and was a warren of rooms, so the couple hired architect David Boyle to design a home that would be better suited to modern-day family living. David had previously worked at Hassell, where the female owner of the house currently works as an interior designer, so for her, hiring him was a simple choice.
“We wanted a family home that worked better, with more bathroom space and connectivity with the outside,” she says. They also wanted an individual touch. “David came back with a simpler version of this, but with a quirk or two. We told him, ‘give us some more quirk.’” He obliged.
David is certainly no slave to the straight line and the right angle – he has introduced sinuous curves and diverse planes, so that the addition isn’t overly formal and includes an element of surprise. These features also serve another purpose. “The curves and shifts in geometry echo the existing decorative features,” says David. “The handcrafted qualities and the level of detail respect the old house.”
The generous open-plan pavilion includes living, dining, kitchen and family room spaces in a V-shape, up a few steps from the rest of the house and abutting the garden. “Beyond the existing section, the whole house opens out in all directions,” says David. Thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass on the northern facade, the addition and the garden, by Michael Cooke Garden Design, have become as one.
While total floor area remains broadly the same as before, the footprint has been juggled to create a secluded, sheltered outdoor area to one side of the house. It adjoins the living area and the main bedroom, while the addition extends a little further into the rear yard. Essentially, David has created dual-aspect rooms that ensure all-day sun and good cross-ventilation. Adding to the sense of lightness and airiness, from the front door you can see all the way down the hallway into the back garden.
“The back room has a sense of grandeur and sits strongly in the garden,” says David. “It makes the best of the north orientation.” It is also focused around a cherished jacaranda tree. Meanwhile, the front of the house was repainted, tired pine floorboards were replaced with spotted gum to blend in with the addition, and all four bedrooms were carpeted. David created an ensuite abutting the main bedroom, together with a new laundry and family bathroom, all clad in striking floor-to-ceiling penny round mosaics. “This is a nod to tessellated tiles used in older-style houses,” he says. Meanwhile, a 1950s garage to the side was replaced with a carport, which he says is “more sympathetic to the style of the house.”
Clad in painted fibre cement panels with vertical timber battens, and with a skillion roof in one part and tiled roof to coordinate with the existing house in the other, the addition is modulated at the side “to soften its impact and make the building seem more generous. The decorative pattern also reminds me of the decoration of the rest of the building,” says David.
Adhering to the original brief, David has ensured that the large scale at the back doesn’t compromise comfortable family living: here, grandness and intimacy go hand in hand. “The main space has different zones,” says David. “The living room is wider than the dining area and the space fans out again on the other side in the kitchen. You step up into the new space – there’s intimacy and large-scale, personal space within a larger space.”
To the same end, he has created personal nooks, such as the covered side deck, accessed from the living areas and the main bedroom, and a banquette in the kitchen, which is a favourite spot for the owners.
Spotted gum joinery in the addition not only provides precious storage, but also acts as a divider between the living and family rooms. The interior design, a joint effort between the owners and David, features contemporary pieces teamed with classics, such as an Eames lounge chair and ottoman, all in a palette of pastels, oranges and aquas to create a sense of warmth and freshness. The result is a home that confidently straddles different eras, as well as what to some could be conflicting goals: blending the demands of family living with timeless good style.