What better way to celebrate turning 100 than with a makeover that makes you feel beautiful? If houses could talk, this stunning Federation home in Mount Lawley would certainly agree. Once beautiful back in its heyday, this old Federation home had many charming character details. But over the decades it had fallen into disrepair and desperately needed some love.
Now this old girl’s top-to-toe transformation, overseen by Dalecki Design, has been so impressive it recently scored two design awards! The renovation was not only awarded the title of Best Residential Alteration or Addition Between $350,000 to $800,000 at the 2017 BDAWA Design Awards, ‘The Wasley’ also took out the top gong with the Design Excellence Award! I think it was very well-deserved. This house could have been knocked down – instead it looks set to enjoy another century.
Built in 1917, the house was purchased by its owners in March 2016. They asked Janik Dalecki, lead designer of Dalecki Design, to help them do a complete redesign and addition. Unlike most of the renovations I’ve featured on House Nerd so far, where the owners renovate a house for themselves to live in, here the objective beyond the renovation was different from the start – the owners wanted to renovate and sell for profit. That process of buying a house to do up and sell on is often called ‘property-flipping’ (particularly in the US) but I think here in Australia that term has gathered so many connotations to dodgy quick-fix renovations and dubious reality TV shows that I think it’s almost offensive for this grand old beauty, where everything has been done to the highest standard. So in my opinion, renovating to sell is far more apt.
The owners (one who had worked as a real estate agent and knew the Perth property market well) were very savvy and snatched up the house on the very first day it went on the market. I mean, who would not?
No really, they were clever. The 1917 house sat on a full 1012sqm inner-city block that the buyers knew could be subdivided into three lots, with the front lot keeping the old house – something they really wanted to do. Janik says he was thrilled that the owners were keen to keep and restore the original house, which, in its dilapidated state and without any heritage listing, would have represented an easy bowl-over for some buyers.
“I think it is really fantastic to see someone willing to take the time to renovate a little piece of Perth’s history and work around it to create a new home to suit our modern way of living, which will hopefully stand for another 100 years.”
“Too often you see people knock these older houses down, as in many instances it’s cheaper and easier to start from scratch. If you look throughout Perth you can see many examples of where these older houses have been knocked down and multiple new houses built in its place, which I personally think is a huge shame when there could be a better approach.
Because the house was a renovate and sell project rather than a house that was being renovated for a particular family, when it came to the design brief, the process was different. Janik and the owners had to decide who their target client would be and create a brief around them. “One of the owners was a previous real estate agent in the area, which proved handy when deciding who our target client was to be, and what they would want and need in a home,” says Janik.
“The entire transformation was to see the tired, run-down home converted into an entertainer’s dream suitable for a young family. The brief was to create a livable family home, centered around an entertainer’s open plan living area at the heart of the house which was to capture their city views and create a well-balanced indoor/outdoor connection.
“Whilst the home was to be designed as a family home, it was also critical that the design included a luxurious master retreat where the parents of the house could escape to the privacy of their own space. Being a smaller inner city parcel or land, it was crucial that this master suite had a sense of luxury and the space to allow the parents to escape from the chaos of a family house, whilst not feeling isolated and confined to a small bedroom space.”
Internally the house is light and bright with spacious yet cosy rooms entwined with the functionality of an open-plan layout. Externally, it is a whole different story. “The materials selected are intentionally dark and bold to further highlight the sense of light and space upon entering the home,” says Janik. “Deep colours were used for the modern addition to create a sense of drama and a bold statement.”
The same deep colours were used in the restoration of the existing heritage home to create a sense of synergy between old and new, softening the contrast between old and new. “Externally, the overall look and feel was designed to feel very dramatic and bold with an overall edgy feel,” reveals Janik. The additions brought the house’s living area from 105m2 to 170m2 in total, as well as alfresco entertaining areas.
Janik says the house’s character details such as the fireplaces and leadlights were left and carefully restored to make the finished result more special. “Another thing I really like about the house is the high ceilings in the additions and the use of the highlight windows which are stunning. The natural light that floods this space and the breeze that passes through in the late afternoon in summer is fantastic.”
The house is proof that with knowledge, foresight, a good design team and a carefully planned renovation it IS still possible even in our current real estate market to renovate for profit. You guys know how sentimental I get over Perth’s old houses – well here I think the owners and Janik did an amazing job breathing life into an old house that could have easily been bulldozed. Good on them.
Janik is more than happy to oblige when I ask him for his tips for other people planning to conduct a renovation on a heritage home.
- Find a local heritage advisor or designer who is familiar with the period of architecture and has previously worked both with this period or architecture along with the local council and various heritage bodies.
- If purchasing a heritage property check with council the type of heritage listing as this will dictate the extent of works that can be carried out on the home.
- Check if the local council have any existing plans and photos of the house. This will give you an idea of what the original building looked like and assist in any reconstruction work.
- Some of these houses are over 100 years old so ensure there is no deterioration through the entire house before starting works. Footings and foundations are two that can go unnoticed as they are hidden under the ground. Additionally rotten roof timbers can be missed if the existing roof is not re worked. Any new works could put additional strain on these areas and result in portions of the building collapsing. It really does happen!
- Reveal the heritage features of the original house by removing any non-original add-ons that have been added throughout the house’s life. Quite often front porches, terraces and balconies are enclosed to create additional space.
- Replace like for like or where need be remove non original features and replace with what would have originally been here. Quite often timber window frames are left in place, but replaced with aluminium sashes. If this is the case work with a window carpenter to replicate what would have been here. Use original drawings or photos if you have these and if not use the local surrounding architecture to find a similar match to your house and replicate their details.
- Research what government and council grants are available to restore and repair your heritage home. Quite often there can be significant grants provided for renovation and restoration works.
- If adding on to the existing heritage home, add on in a style that provides a clear definition between what is new and what is old. Adding on a contrasting addition can highlight the existing heritage features both internally and externally. A simpler more minimalistic design can really highlight the existing ornate details of the heritage home.