Elwood House by Preston Lane

Preston Lane turned an inefficient 1915 Edwardian house located in Elwood, Australia into a warm and light-filled family home.

Description by Preston Lane

Elwood House features the adaptive reuse and transformation of a cold, dark, and inefficient 1915 Edwardian house into a warm and light-filled family home that has direct connections to the outside.

On approach, the new extension is hidden behind the steep roofline of the original house. The large existing roof space of the original part of the house has been adapted to accommodate two bedrooms, a children’s playroom, and a family bathroom. The upper-level volume of the new extension is kept minimal to ensure a human scale at ground level. Operable skylights sit within the existing roof to provide natural daylight and ventilation into the upper-floor bedrooms. The angled ceiling lines and modest heights are complemented with splashes of bright paint colors providing playfulness for these children’s spaces.

On the ground floor, a skylight has been inserted into the guest bathroom to bring light into the center of the floor plan and a neatly concealed, large door sits at the base of the brightly colored teal carpeted stairs that separate the new living zone from the old.

The fabric of the existing house has been respectfully adapted in the new extension. The rear roof to the existing lean-to-addition was retained to house a new study and laundry. The original painted bricks to the eastern side of the house are exposed and sandblasted to create a threshold between the old and the new and allow the occupant to clearly differentiate between the two. This similar honesty to the original elements of the house carries through to the new kitchen where the original rear brick wall of the house is again exposed to the new kitchen.

Externally, an expansive concrete block wall to the southern boundary, along with a strategically placed high overhanging roof to the north, provide a visual barrier from the neighboring block of two-story units that previously overlooked the rear garden. Internally, this exposed wall serves as a textural backdrop for hanging artwork and links the new living spaces within the open-plan extension. Steel framed doors are located at each end, creating a strong visual link between both the existing and new outdoor areas.

The new material palette of concrete block, brick, timber, and polished concrete complement the original red brick and stucco house. Full-height north facing steel-framed doors and windows allow natural light into the new living area extension opening up the new living spaces to the rear garden. The generous eaves allow for direct sunlight in winter, but shade the interior in summer. These eaves also allow the thermal mass of the polished concrete slab and masonry walls to keep the living, dining, and kitchen areas warm in winter and cool in summer. Black glazed bricks were selected for the dividing fireplace element between the living and dining areas, accentuating the drama between textures and materials.

This small project on a tight budget has been a wonderful journey with a trusting client and a dedicated construction team.

Photography courtesy of Preston Lane

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- by Matt Watts

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