Retrofit & renovated with flair

Issue 22 Words: Francene Ridley Photography: Lara Masselos
Gaythorne, QLD
  • The kitchen was moved to the back of the house to take advantage of the block’s northern aspect and connect it and the main living space with the deck and backyard.
  • A pop-out designed into a renovated sleep-out adds just 2.2 square metres to this Brisbane home’s overall footprint but improves functionality. Bulk insulation was added to the walls and ceiling and the existing timber floor sanded and finished.
  • This bookshelf near the redesigned home’s entry “saves money and trees” says architect Stephanie Skyring, as well as adding storage without increasing the size of the house.
  • Very low formaldehyde emission (E0) particle board was used for kitchen cabinetry. Low VOC paint is used throughout the house.
  • The redesign brings natural light into what the owners describe as a previously “dark and poky” home. Improved breeze paths through the house mean there’s no need for air-conditioning. Louvre windows allow cross ventilation.

A Queensland renovation lifts a Brisbane home’s energy performance and liveability, with just a few changes to the floor plan.

Gillian Moody thought she was pretty savvy about sustainable design until she and her husband Warren McGregor renovated their post-war Brisbane home on 620 square metres in the northern Brisbane suburb of Gaythorne.

Having worked on a Queensland government sustainable living initiative, Gillian felt she was “very aware” of how to make a house more environmentally sound. After the renovation and interior retrofit, however, she and Warren realised that green living is about more than simply turning the TV off at the wall and switching to LED lights.

“We didn’t really comprehend how the orientation and layout of the house can make such a difference,” says Gillian. “One of the smartest things you can do is make sure your house is facing the right direction, and if you can’t do that, relocate windows to catch sun and shade.”

Luckily, orientation wasn’t a significant problem architect Stephanie Skyring of Skyring Architects faced when Gillian and Warren asked her to design a better performing house. The property’s north-facing backyard and vegetation providing shade to the west were positive features she could make the most of. It was the home’s dark and poky floor plan that was the main problem. As it was, life for Gillian and Warren was almost unbearable during Brisbane’s stifling subtropical summers.

“There was absolutely no cross-ventilation in the house; the walls were in the wrong place and had no insulation,” Gillian says, adding that they had even considered getting an air conditioner despite her strong opinions against them. “We thought we’d have to build a whole new house,” she says, “but Stephanie said we could just reconfigure the original floor plan.”

The main aims of the redesign were to link the living areas to the back northwest-facing deck, improve the layout of the kitchen, give more space to the main bedroom and allow cooling breezes to flow through the house. All this was achieved with the addition of just 2.2 square metres of floor area and, wherever possible, the reuse of material salvaged from any demolition work, and staying air conditioner free. “I’ve always been against air-conditioning. Now, I’m even more against it. You just don’t need it if the house is designed properly,” says Gillian.

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Cover of Issue 22
You can read more about Retrofit & renovated with flair in Issue 22 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Design: Stephanie Skyring, Skyring Architects

Builder: Craft Building Company

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