How we transformed a poky early 1900s Annandale terrace into a spacious, contemporary home
By the Ballast Point Design and Construction team
Sydney’s inner-west is filled with terrace houses that were built back in the early 1900s. While charming on the outside, they are often small, narrow and dark on the inside, especially when compared to modern homes. Imagine what it would have been like living in these homes when there was little consideration for internal design – just a low-cost utilitarian plan around a conforming front facade. Very little consideration for natural light or spacious entertaining space, that’s for sure. In those days, natural light was just a normal double hung window – you were lucky if you had one of those!
The subject of one of our most recent projects was exactly one of these — a typical Annandale upside-down terrace. The ground floor living area was cut off from the backyard by a laundry cum bathroom, and the bedrooms and windows were tiny.
We wanted to design a living area that connected to the backyard to create one large space, making them both feel bigger. It’s something that’s done often, but it’s not often done well. There is usually some compromise. People may decide to leave a wall or a laundry somewhere and work around it. We were determined to have an uncompromised link between the backyard and living area.
We started by clearing the whole space out and used a step down from the kitchen to the living area to create a greater volume and a tall aperture to the garden, with a set of full height glass doors. Coupled with the skylights, they give this part of the house a lightness and beautiful atmosphere. These doors lead out to a deck overlooking gardens designed by our good friend Michael Bates, from Bates Landscape.
One of our core principles is to never compromise on space, so each space feels great and is neatly folded into every other space. We added a guest WC under the stairs, a bathroom upstairs and extended both levels to create larger rooms. Due to the small size of the house, we added storage nooks wherever we could in the bathrooms.
In short, the house has undergone a complete transformation to become a contemporary, sophisticated home. Working with narrow homes is always a challenge – there are limited options with room and stair placement. Nobody who visits this home can quite believe that the whole block of land is 95 square metres — and it still has a generous backyard.
One of the things that I love most about this house is that it looks great, but it’s all very simple, with basic materials used really well. Simple is quite hard in construction, achieving clean lines and alignments is difficult and requires planning.