We believe our house dates from the 1930s, and it has been unsympathetically renovated. It has been raised but the lower floor is badly-poured and stained concrete, and enclosed, probably with asbestos, in some places with brick walls. The upper floor is clearly the original house, but the walls have been covered in plasterboard and a fake ceiling with fake supporting beams installed. The floor was completely carpeted in all rooms, although we removed the bathroom and kitchenette carpet to reveal tiles in good condition. A small concrete balcony has been added to the front and rear of the house with a colourbond roof stuck over to provide cover. All original doors and windows are gone, mostly replaced with sliding glass doors on the outside and sliding wooden doors inside, and poorly-fitting aluminium framed windows complete with security grilles.
However, some original heritage features remain upstairs, such as the original wooden ceiling in the centre of the house, and some VJ panelling behind the plasterboard in the same area. Bits of VJ and weather board are visible in other places also. Under the carpet and lino in the back room we found the original wooden floor boards, and we’re pretty sure those are still in place in the entire top floor. There is weatherboarding under the plasterboard where we presume the original front wall was, facing onto what was likely a verandah.
The house has been too butchered to even attempt a strict restoration, but we would like to be sympathetic to the original features and retain and restore where reasonably possible (ie remove the plasterboard, carpet, and fake ceilings), and keep anything new in character with the typical interwar Queenslander home – so nothing too ornate, but maybe a few touches like simple verandah brackets, breezeways, casement windows. We would like to reuse materials elsewhere where it’s not possible to restore in place.
Currently little use is made of natural resources to make the house more comfortable. Some windows have fixed louvred shading, other windows have no shading, and so rooms are often too hot in summer, or too cold in winter. There are no through passages for breezes on either floor.
We would like to make use of modern fittings and technologies, combined with more heritage styling to achieve a look that is in keeping with the age of the house, but achieving modern standards of insulation in the walls, windows, doors and roof, and making best use of the sun and wind to regulate the house temperature.
Through improved use of natural cooling and heating, and better insulation, we aim to minimise the use of air conditioners in summer and heating in winter. We would like to make more use of the sun via solar panels, perhaps to power air conditioners if needed, or just to reduce the need to heat water for washing and cleaning.
We like to make the best use of the light for our living areas, particularly dining and kitchen, and save the darkened rooms for sleeping, tv room, computer room. As heat rises, having our bedrooms downstairs makes sense to us as we like to have a cool sleeping area. This also means most of our waking hours are spent upstairs where we have the best views and light.
Currently water is only collected from the garage roof, and is then only usable from one outside tap. It would be good to make more use of this natural resource and reduce the amount of water that enters the storm drains during downpours (especially as our storm drains are prone to flooding during king tides). We’d like to collect water from our house roof, not just the garage.
We’d like to use sustainable and environmentally friendly materials throughout.
The vision is “upside-down” living, with all bedrooms downstairs, and living and entertainment areas upstairs.
The house faces north-north-west. The house is one plot back from the waterfront, so from the north-east corner we have a view of Bramble Bay. Currently this corner is built in so views from the house are limited. We’re keen to open all this up to maximise views of the bay. At dusk there are often wonderful skies to be seen to the west also, which with the current design are impossible to see without standing outside.
We would like to improve the flow of the house considerably, with our kitchen near our dining area and deck, which should be near our views. Views towards the sea should be maximised.
We would like the boundaries between inside and outside to be blurred at the borders. We would like more outdoor areas for socialising that retain some protection from the wind and sun, and would like to either restore the old deck or add a new one to the north-east corner to achieve this.
The upstairs bathroom needs to be spacious enough for a bath, and ideally be light and sunny in the afternoons.
Downstairs is currently stripped to bare bones with a basic kitchen, and is basically a clean canvas. We think we have space for a master bedroom with ensuite and walk in robe, as well as two guest bedrooms with another toilet, and an open study area around and under the stairs. We would also like to ensure that the ground floor is legal height – it’s currently short by 10cm.
We don’t believe the house needs any extensions aside from a deck, but lots of re-arrangement inside to make best use of the space.
We want our house to be well above any predicted future flood level, so wish to raise it to maximum allowable height.
Currently most of the house is relatively private from our neighbours, and we’d like to retain that.
The car needs to be enclosed due to proximity to the sea. The garage also stores valuable bicycles so we need a secure lock-up area or the garage to be large enough for these.
We have two cats, one of whom cannot be let loose outside unless we can keep her off the roads (she has no road sense), so we need to create a reasonable sized cat run in the backyard, leading off from the house.
Security mesh or something similar would be infinitely preferable to visible security grills. It would be good to carefully select where would be best for these, rather than automatically put them in every window, if possible.
There is a huge garage to the east of the plot which we’re keen to remove. We would like to reduce the visual impact of the garage, and ensure that by maintaining sensible proportions, the house does not look much more out of place than at present. There is a large concrete slab under the garage which could be re-used.
The street and surrounds is a mix of heritage Queenslanders right through to modern buildings, but we’d prefer our house to be more in keeping with interwar period, so not too ornate or faux-Queenslander, but with some character touches.