Traditional character bungalow gets magical renovation

One of the most challenging aspects of renovating an older home is the fact that you never know what to expect once you start pulling it apart.

Parts of the house may be structurally unsound, and more often that not, this applies to previous add-ons and alterations.

This character Herne Bay bungalow, restored by Jessop Architects, is a case in point. Piecemeal alterations over the years had not done the home any favours. The former lean-to at the rear of the property, for example, turned out to be supported by just three sticks of four-by-two, which explained the massive bow in the structure.

“When you think you can do a quick renovation, you often find that half the house needs to be pulled to pieces and started again,” says architect Darren Jessop. “With this project we essentially gutted the whole downstairs area and rebuilt it.”

The architect says the original house was a rabbit warren of small rooms with a cheap kitchen addition dating back to the 1950s, and an internal laundry. As with many original bungalows, there was no flow to the outdoors.

“There was no outdoor living area, just an exposed deck, and no real connection between the house and an old pool in the backyard. It was very disjointed.”

Jessop says retaining the key heritage elements of the home added to the complexity of the project. Any changes to the front of the house needed to be in keeping with the character and the original roofline needed to be maintained, which affected the redesign of the top storey.

To provide the required space for a large open-plan living area and new master suite above the house was pushed out by one metre at the rear. Glass doors slide back to open up the entire corner of the living area to a new 7m by 6m outdoor living area. This features a large timber deck with overhead louvres and heaters, and a gas fireplace.

“The outdoor room provides a transition to the garden a few steps lower,” says Jessop. “Many older bungalows are elevated above the ground, so creating a strong connection with the landscape always involves a change in levels.

“To link the three levels on this property we provided massive wide stone steps down to the new pool. This eases the transition from the house to the first level. Large spherical planters provide visual anchors on either side of the steps. A second set of steps leads down to the garden, and there’s a further drop to the front garden.”

Inside, the house has been designed to work for a busy family with older teenagers. The kitchen is large enough to ensure the family is not “all on top of each other” in the morning.

“The central island bar is a focal point,” says the architect. “They can have 10 people in here with no problem.”

Special features of the kitchen include a “Mr Ed” door where the top part can be opened to the outdoors, a composite marble benchtop on the island, and a specially designed ventilation unit, similar to a commercial extractor. The flooring is stained French oak.

A new master suite was created within the extended loft space on the top floor. “We kept the bungalow look with the shuttered windows, but took these right down to the floor, in place of the traditional window seat,” says Jessop.

The original master bedroom, with arched window, has become a large wardrobe.

Jessop says costs for major renovations can start at around $200,000. “But that’s just the starting point. Many projects are more likely to go up to $400,000 to $500,000 plus. Creating an outdoor room that’s not too large could be achieved between $15,000 and $20,000, but is more likely to be $25,000 by the time you include structural elements, heaters and louvres.”

Word Colleen Hawkes

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