Despite the fact the house was asbestos -riddled and falling apart, a Sydney couple saw the beginnings of a perfect family home.


The project: To transform a decaying three-bedroom Californian bungalow in Sydney’s Clovelly into a light-filled family home for Todd, Katie and their three kids: 12-year-old Zac, 10-year-old Ava, and eight-year-old Leo.

The budget: $1.2 million.


Katie & Todd’s wishlist

  •  timber-clad ceiling – spotted in a LA mag and will give the living area a warm and striking feature
  • dream dining area – love the layout and feel of this space and the timber dining table is a winner!
  • scalloped tiles – the colour and shape of these tiles would be great for the ensuite and WC
  • walk-through robe – hiding the mess from the bedroom
  • kitchen layout – like the flow of this zone and the sliding glass doors and the colour of the cabinets and floor


Coming up with the concept

“I love old and Todd loves new,” says Katie, so the couple decided to work with the existing mid-century structure but add a contemporary, light-filled extension.

The couple hired architect David Smyth of Smyth & Smyth  to create a design that combined the classic bungalow at the front with a new rear addition.

The original property already boasted three bedrooms and soaring ceilings, so Katie and Todd decided this would become the kids’ end of the home, with a modern open-plan family/dining/living space out the back and a parents’ retreat added to the 500-square-metre block.


Getting the floorplan right

For architect David Smyth, there were challenges but it was ultimately a straightforward project. “The block falls to the rear and side and we wanted to create a sense of flow while making the most of the area,” says David. Now, the original home stops halfway down the hall, and from there, the new extension includes a laundry and bathroom on the kids’ bedroom level. Six stairs lead down to the kitchen, dining and living area. Up another staircase sits the top level study, above the living space.

Tackling the build

Decisions were made along the way that helped Katie and Todd come under budget. “We made the call not to go for the underfloor heating in the main room when it came down to it,” says Katie. The room already had a reverse-cycle air-conditioner and the savings outweighed the luxury that was never a must-have.



Despite the wide open doors and abundance of
floor-to-ceiling windows, Katie and Todd’s home is also a very private residence. From the front, the home looks like any other
mid-century home that is common to the area, and so the wide, streamlined modern addition at the back of the block always surprises first-time visitors to the home.

Hidden pantry
One of Katie’s favourite things is the concealed entry to the butler’s pantry. A side entrance runs behind a small hidden garage, with a glass door into the pantry. “I can just drop the shopping off as soon as we’re in the door,” says Katie.

Plenty of storage
At every turn in this home, you’ll find built-in storage. For instance, at one end of the dining area, there are three large sliding doors with cupboards, hung on castors that roll open. The third panel can be slid along to seal off the office nook/workstation area.

Wide open spaces
Ultimately it’s the sense of space that the couple indulged in that really makes the home. “I love the size of the rooms and bathrooms,” says Katie. “It’s a great feeling to have so much room everywhere.”


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