The Loft

The Home Base blog

Near To Nature

A restoration and extension has breathed new life into a 1940s cottage


It’s not surprising that a couple of artists took their time to not only consider and imagine what could become of their character property in Beaconsfield, they also savoured what was already there.

During that contemplation period, what called to them most was the greatest beauty of all — nature and a never-ending enthusiasm for the experience of space.

Picture: Robert Firth

Picture: Robert Firth

And so the work with Perth architect Simon Pendal began, a quest to honour what was already there, expand on it and provide connection to the natural world.

The original house was a 1947 partly dilapidated timber and asbestos building.

The ceiling over the kitchen was about to collapse and the bathroom and kitchen were in original condition. There was an outside toilet.

In fact, the original brief offered to Simon very much involved using the original toilet as a reference point. It was covered in star jasmine and the owners loved being connected to nature when using it, regardless of the weather.

Picture: Robert Firth

The original cottage was stripped back to its timber frame, jarrah floor and front verandah.

To maintain the integrity of the original building, only subtle changes were made to the plan.

“It has been treated on its merits as thin, modest and direct,” Simon says.

Picture: Robert Firth

The renovation yielded extra space, including a large multi-use zone that can be used as a living area or studio space, an extra bedroom and another bathroom.

One of the most interesting aspects of the finished renovation is the outdoor bathroom, an idea spawned from the original outdoor loo.

The inside bathroom is connected to a leafy courtyard. Long discussions and contemplation about how people move through space influenced the final design of the entire project, but particularly the living room ceiling.

The new extension is like a series of cave-like chambers made using recycled bricks.

Picture: Robert Firth

According to Simon, it feels weighty and its surfaces are rustic. “Openings have no ‘frame’ and appear primitive and hollowed-out of the building’s mass,” he says.

“Light from above enters in a carefully orchestrated sequence, giving the interior a soft glow and a sense of slow discovery.”

The main bedroom was moved to the back of the house to create the perfect sanctuary, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house.

It features a stunning skylight above the bed that allows the owners to gaze up at the moon and stars at night and an ocean-like palette of blues and greens.

Picture: Robert Firth

“This room is more compressed than the others,” Simon says.

The couple say there is a difference between a house that has been designed by an architect and one that has not. The spaces are like a big functional artwork.

“It feels like a secret world in the suburbs,” Simon says.