When architecture firm Alexander & Co. was commissioned to freshen up a Victorian semi-detached terrace house in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, they envisioned a structure that could be “a scaffold for growth and change.” Though it was in poor condition with a layout that didn’t make sense, the house still had good bones and a lot of promise. The clients, a family with young children, wanted the result to feel humanized and imperfect. Rather than “a collection of set gyprock and flush surfaces,” as the architects put it, the home should feature natural materials, and retain the sense that it’s a work in progress that will be continuously altered in the years to come to meet new needs and preferences.
The project also came with a tight budget, requiring the architects to get creative. Instead of featuring an open plan, they decided to densely divide the space into a greater number of rooms, offering plenty of opportunities to sit down, rest and take in views of an old gum tree in the center of the rear garden. An ongoing project including three renovations over a period of seven years, the home has a new pine plywood loft as a “rumpus room” for the children and beautiful pale pine details throughout, accenting the white walls and stone flooring.
“For the young children, the home was to explain how it was built; to show its structural rhythms, to demonstrate how materials could be added to one another and result in spaces which are honest and often surprising. Inspired by the works of Alvar Aalto and Louis Kahn, the home has a loosely modernist philosophy, whilst its exploration of locally available and low cost pine structure and Carrara stone gives it an almost Scandinavian sensibility.”
“The home is representative of the non-static state of ‘completion’. In effect, each gyration of the project represents another ‘incomplete’ end point, the home is a scaffold for ongoing change and the family has relished this fact. The interiors reflect this also, with various finishes, materials and furniture continuing to evolve, as do the tastes and needs of its occupants. The palette is a contemporary interpretation of a Scandinavian style. Low cost pine structures and exposed pine ply sheeting makes up the majority of internal finishes, with various uses and formats of Carrara tile to bathrooms, kitchen splash backs and floor surfaces. The home is quirky, infused with the unique spirit of the family and its progressive domestic evolutions. Not surprisingly, it is the integrity of imperfect, inert and low cost materials which gives the home so much of its spirit.”
A squat brick house built as a getaway in the 1950s felt too dark and small for its modern-day owners, who envisioned something bright and open that preserves the existing structure. In making these renovation dreams come true, part of the challenge for Dutch firm Bloot Architecture was hewing to local laws restricting residential building heights and requiring a certain slope in the roof.
The result is essentially a modular pod placed right on top of the original home’s roof, with a huge window angled toward the sky and the canopies of the trees in the surrounding forest. The addition sits low enough to follow the law, but the clever angles make it seem higher than it really is. Climb the stairs to the lofted bed that sits on a platform just beneath that window, and you’ll feel like you’re in a tree house.
This sustainable addition makes extensive use of pine throughout the interior, with flax insulation and an untreated larch cladding exterior. It adds two bedrooms to the home, as well as a storage landing, a new laundry room and access to the roof. All storage and bed bases are built-in.
Is your home feeling a tad too small? Maybe the answer isn’t moving into a larger house, but rather adding some extra space. Homeowners are increasingly choosing to expand their homes with additions that don’t necessarily blend in with the architectural style of the main residence. Add-ons made of wood and glass give homes a fresh new look, no matter what the original house looks like – whether it’s a historic brick residence or typical suburban style.
One striking example is the Timber Fin House (pictured top), which was fitted with a wood extension that perfectly complements the existing brick facade. Neil Dusheiko Architects explain that the shape of the extension “is designed to track the sun and create a positive space in the garden.”
A historic brick house on a railway line in Amsterdam got a similar expansion from Zecc Architects, but this one has a lot more glass, functioning almost like a sun room.
A 1950s home in the Netherlands has an entirely new look with its charred timber extension, a sculptural prefabricated volume that hugs the home on two sides and features a dynamic angled roofline.
Maynard Architects gave a contemporary home extra living space and an upper-level deck in one with this creative wood add-on featuring exposed natural wood siding and visible interior rafters.
What started out as little more than a dark box is now a light-filled cabin in a remote area of Maine after a brilliant renovation. Local building codes prevented the new owners from expanding its footprint, which is just 540 square feet on the first floor, so they had to get creative to make the two-story barn wood structure livable. Designer George Gekas cut floor-to-ceiling windows to give the cabin the feel of a ship.
Located on a tidal lake called Goose Marsh Pond on Mount Desert Island, the cabin offered a relaxing, secluded home for a couple from New York working in the oncology field. Gekas, who had previously built 70 houses on the island, knew just what to do to make it feel like a welcoming retreat for the entire extended family, including small grandchildren.
Many of the solutions are multi-purpose to make the most of the small space, and the interior was redesigned to make the view top priority. Gekas replaced the roof over the sitting area with translucent corrugated polycarbonate panels to let in more light, and used Eastern White Pine throughout the interior to give it an airy feel.