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Graceful transition

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This traditional restoration blurs the old and new, keeping contemporary function tucked away behind a refined facade

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Comprehensively renovating a traditional house requires a multi-faceted approach. Restoring and expanding on a home's original glory, for example, might involve removing insensitive additions, staying true to the original detailing, and at the same time ensuring modern comforts don't overshadow the home's period interior.

This home was sensitively renovated byarchitect Andrew Boughton, and he addressed all these aspects.

"We were lucky in that the owners were mindful of the home's origins, and worked with us every step of the way to ensure its authentic spirit was retained – and in some areas retrieved," says Boughton. "In a sense, they felt they were only borrowing the house and enriching it for the future."

Built in 1905, the first, short-sighted additions were made only 15 years later. Original verandahs connected the interior to the formal garden, but in 1920 these were walled in. Boughton reopened these spaces and introduced French doors to reconnect the house to its immediate environment.

"A more sensitive addition to the home was made in the late 1980s, introducing a kitchen wing on the ground floor, which has been retained."

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Elsewhere on this level, the home was left largely as it was. The work did involve restoring detailing and future-proofing elements, such as the verandahs.

Upstairs, two wings were added, containing a guest room and extensions to the master bedroom. New bathrooms were also introduced for other bedrooms on this level.

In keeping with Victorian times, the additions to the upper level were not built on the same grand scale as the downstairs entry hall and living areas. Originally, the upper story comprised a central hallway leading to five bedrooms.

Boughton introduced a second octagonal hallway – a popular design shape in the early 1900s – leading to the master bedroom, bathroom, and a dressing area.

"Attention to detail was fundamental to the renovation. However, there were virtually no original drawings to work from," he says. Moldings, cornices, and porticos were either faithfully reproduced from those in other areas of the home, or reinvented in a sympathetic style."

The home's original pressed metal ceilings were fashionable in the early 1900s because they were lighter, more durable and easier to import from England than the original plaster ceilings they invoked. In an ironic twist, using modern technology, the architect was able to cast molds from these pressed metal ceilings – minor defects and all – and from these create new plaster ceilings for the additions.

In terms of merging tradition with modern conveniences and comforts, the renovation is an exercise in subtlety.

Downstairs, underfloor heating was introduced, avoiding the need for modern-look appliances. Original fireplaces were replaced by gas fires, with custom, period surrounds.

Upstairs, air conditioning was installed. The vents are hidden from view behind new plasterwork grills based on existing detailing.

"Respect for the existing space was paramount," says Boughton. "In the master bathroom, a freestanding wall conceals a toilet, and is fronted by a washstand. While a freestanding wall isn't a Victorian concept, it does echo other tradition-look freestanding pieces such as the bathtub," says the architect.

Boughton says the introduction of modern know-how helped to future-proof the home's integrity.

"The original dilapidated verandahs werevirtually rebuilt and completely re-plumbed, with detailing subtly reworked so as not to hold rainwater and cause rot," he says.

The verandahs were copper-edged, protecting these trouble spots from decay. Water here also drains more efficiently now, with a sub-floor built under upper verandahs to conceal the new drainage systems.

Overall, the integration of old and new into this restoration is virtually seamless. The owner says that visitors have difficulty knowing where the original home finishes and the renovation begins.

First published date: 03 March 2006

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Credit List

Architect Andrew Boughton, RAIA, Boughton Architecture
Interior designer JBL Design
Landscape designer Anna Perry
Builder Sullivan Nominees, Garry Treen Construction
Siding Recycled bricks
Roof Existing roof and recycled tiles
Tiling Winkelmans tiles; Perlino Bianco marble
Flooring Second-hand flooring, bleached and stained
Wallcoverings Pressed metal and plaster glass, caste off existing pressed metal panels
Paints Dulux, Taubmans
Heating Underfloor
Window treatments Wood shutters
Master bathroom tub Kohler Oak Park
Basin Villeroy and Boch Florine