The street side facade of this Coogee home is deceptive. Between the greenery and the dark brickwork characterising most of the 1920’s duplex apartments around Sydney’s Eastern Beaches, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary to distinguish the home from its surrounds. Viewed from back yard however, the home looks completely different – in fact, the historic windows and deep external colour are the only clues you’re seeing the same property.

The decision to preserve some existing characteristics and convert others was influenced by the home’s structure, being a former duplex apartment that was to be redeveloped as a family home. Madeleine Blanchfield Architects, having proven their salt in that effortless beachside style, modified the internal planning to including new bathrooms, kitchen and fit out.

DESIGN Madeleine Blanchfield Architects | PHOTOGRAPHY Prue Ruscoe

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Only subtle modifications were made to the existing street facing facade in order to keep the character of the existing building and create harmony with the surrounding street homes, while the rear facade was completely restructured. The living and dining areas were simplified with an open plan space, extended with a new pavilion structure that opens up to the back garden with floor to ceiling glass doors and additional undercover space outside.

Within the home, the balance of style and materiality is brought together repeatedly and elegantly. Concrete floors and custom cabinetry add modern touches to the living spaces, contrasted by the antique plaster ceiling preserved from the original interior. In the kitchen, a stainless still stove and marble splashback sit neatly within the original brick layout, and throughout the home original doors, joinery and architraves have been reworked to add character to the design. And for a home that draws substantially from an older, solid structure there is an abundance of light to enjoy in this home, from the way the windows fold around the top of the inbuilt shelving in the living room to the integration of original windows in the revised internal plan, like the two small windows in the new shower room.

The sprawling backyard green and pool area only add to the appeal (and surprise) of this seemingly innocuous 1920s home. Behind the traditional exterior, the new living space unfurls itself with qualities of both old and new, successfully captured in a design for everyday living.

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Striking just the right mix of rustic and modern aesthetics, the new timber staircase and Muuto dots add contemporary design cues to the raw brick walls and preserved door. 

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