Australian firm PW Architecture Office has revived the fortunes of this mid-century home with a sensitive renovation that respects the original building while taking design cues from the material palette.
The Park Lane home was originally designed by renowned Australian architect Neville Grousman for the 1962 Carlingford Home Fair, and was subsequently commissioned in 1964 by Kell &, the construction company known for its work on Sydney’s landmark Grace Building. Built by Rigby.
When Paddy Williams, founder of PW Architecture Office, discovered the house was up for sale in 2022, the team went to take a look out of architectural curiosity.
The studio was immediately drawn to the 1964 home’s sense of flow between indoor and outdoor spaces and the quality of its design, construction, and materials, even though it had undergone several ruthless renovations. Ta.
“I loved the sense of arrival created by the pergola and portico that lead through the garden and pond to the entrance hall,” Williams said.
“We loved how the pavilion-style wings separate the common and private spaces, and the pergola wraps around the house and terrace, structuring the different spaces in the garden.”
I ended up buying the house and renovating it as a short-term rental for other modernist architecture enthusiasts.
“We felt a real responsibility to do the project justice and keep the planning elements and materials as intended,” Williams said.
“We wanted to bring back some of the excitement to this mid-century wonder, like when it was first built.”
Feeling that the floor plan still worked well, PW Architects Office (PWAO) left the floor plan unchanged, restoring and celebrating the home’s original features while bringing it up to 21st century living standards. I set out to do that.
“We designed a contemporary take on a mid-century aesthetic to create an immediate sense of relaxation and peace through a sophisticated palette and the connection between home and garden,” Williams told Dezeen. Ta.
Removing the worn carpet revealed the home’s original Australian cypress floorboards, which were sanded and polished to look new.
Elsewhere, PWAO replaced vinyl flooring in a small living room, kitchen and some bathrooms with “durable, low-maintenance” microcement.
In the main living room, the false ceiling was removed to expose the original Oregon wood beams, now filled with hardwood and tiled bulkheads.
“When we removed the severely damaged drywall, the beams were in very good condition and had a beautiful texture, so we decided to put them on display,” Williams said.
“This also allowed us to raise the ceiling height and experiment with the size and rhythm of the beams.”
In the paneled entry hall, the original native black bean wood was lightly tended to, restoring the rich and varied tones found on the doors throughout the home.
Elsewhere, PWAO used acacia as a signature wood for panels and details on headboards, stair treads, and integrated shelving.
“We used these acacia elements in a playful pattern,” says the studio. “They have ongoing discussions about the original black bean wood used around the house.”
In the large living space, a double-sided fireplace helps separate the living and dining areas, and the walls were clad in textured wood wool panels (a composite material made from recycled wood fibres).
“It’s actually an insulating and acoustical panel that’s typically used on ceilings,” Williams said. “I thought it was a great opportunity to add some texture to the walls.”
Terracotta tiles are found throughout the home, adding to the warm, earthy feel established through the material palette.
“The mosaic tiles are influenced by the original terracotta tiles in the entrance foyer,” the architects explained. “The small grid we used contrasts with the original large terrace tiles and the grid of the house itself, creating a play of scale.”
When the wiring was replaced, PWAO also had the opportunity to integrate the home with smart home technology. This allows lighting, heating, fans and irrigation to be controlled via an app, striking a balance between modernist aesthetics and modern convenience.
Dezeen recently rounded up eight other mid-century home renovations that blend period and modern details.
These included a 1960s Australian home where local studio Design Theory updated the interiors for a young client and his dog.
Photography by Monique Lovic.