Articles / Renovation

Edwardian timber cottage given contemporary overhaul

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Suffering from a poor room configuration and lack of natural light, this sunny cottage was in desperate need of renovation

Windows run up from the floor and transform into skylights


Architect: Sheri Haby Architects
Photographer: Lisbeth Grosmann

About the project: Gable House is an Edwardian timber cottage in Sandringham, close to the train station, shops and beach. Typical of many of the period houses in the area, a previous extension had added a room on the back incorporating main bedroom, kitchen and meals area but this space suffered the ailments of a south orientation and poor room configuration.

We needed to consider how this space could be better utilised. The client was comfortable that they didn't need a bigger house, just one that worked better. The design brief was to provide a spacious, light filled, open plan area at the back that better connected to the backyard and corrected the lack of privacy between the main bedroom and living area. The existing house already measured 207m2 and with a site area of 491 m2 the client was reluctant to sacrifice any backyard nor overcapitalise on the relatively small site.

The period house at the front was retained, incorporating three good-sized bedrooms, formal lounge, dining room and original hallway. The bathroom and laundry were refurbished and reworked to include a separate powder room. At the rear of the house the new addition was kept as small as possible to retain the rear garden and meet Council requirements for site coverage. Two gable roof forms were added, one each for the main bedroom and family area, to lift the ceilings and give a quality of spaciousness.

The master bedroom was extended slightly to provide a walk in robe and ensuite and its entry reworked to obscure views to it from the living area. The kitchen and living area were flipped to connect the kitchen with a new outside deck, while the lofty gable roof form was extended over the deck as a timber pergola. When the glazed sliding stacking doors are open the whole thing becomes an outdoor space and the interior and exterior work really well together.


To catch the sun a new window and skylight was carved into the east side of the house at the end of the kitchen, providing lovely moments of sunlight at different times of the day. The kitchen bench juts out under the skylight as a timber breakfast bar.

Passive energy design

The new window and skylight offers the south facing kitchen and meals area great solar access.

The kitchen and meals area are organised to enjoy these moments of sun, while orientated and connected to the south facing backyard.


Most of the existing house was retained or reworked, reducing waste. The roof is insulated with Kingspan Air-cell and R3.5 batts. R3.5 batts were also added to the existing ceiling. New lightweight walls are insulated with R2 batts and sisalation and the floor is fitted with new R2 insulation.

All new windows are painted Australian hardwood timber frames with low E clear double glazing. The house uses low energy LED lighting. The existing floor ducted gas heating system was retained and reworked to suit the alterations, as was the existing evaporative cooling system.


The house sits in a street of predominantly light coloured, timber houses. The materials selected were chosen for their quality and aesthetics. The client sought a relaxed, neutral interior that sat comfortably with the original Edwardian and proximity to the beach. The interiors are fairly restrained white spaces with subtle shifts in tone and texture by use of wall tiles, brick and timber.

The kitchen is a white 2-pack with a reconstituted stone bench top and incorporates a recycled Blackbutt breakfast bar. Site painted finishes are low-VOC. The roof sheeting is Zincalume. The new timber flooring is Blackbutt and finished with Bona Traffic. The ceramic tiles are from Classic Ceramics.

First published date: 24 October 2017

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