An Old Lady Cottage Freshened Up for a Young Family

What do you do when you love renovating and building and are itching to do it again… but you love your current location, which is just perfect for your family?

Well, it might not happen very often, but these two dedicated renovators sold their much-loved labour of love – and built their next home right next door.


Home owners Simon and Katie Mackoski had been looking for a renovation project and found their perfect fit when they chanced upon this West Leederville house, built in 1910. “We wanted an original character home with lots of old features that we could salvage and/or recreate,” says Katie. “We loved the idea of a long central hallway and we wanted the house to be as untouched as possible – no nasty extensions from the 70s! – so that we would not waste money and time removing an unwanted and outdated extension.”

An old weatherboard cottage, it had character in bucketloads, with ornate skirting boards and cornices, 3.5m ceilings, timber windows, jarrah floors and a beautiful wraparound veranda. “It was bright green and very rundown, but the gardens were lovely!” says Katie. “We drove past it late one night and dismissed it, but then something made me go back with my sister a couple days later to view inside. I then brought my husband back – rather nervously – to see what he thought. He agreed it was worth saving and so we put in an offer at that time and it was accepted that evening!”

Simon, an engineer, and Katie, a stay-at-home mum and casual marketing consultant, who now have three kids, Claudia, 6, Scarlett, 4, and Henry, 2, took ownership of the house in September 2013. “We bought the home from a lovely old lady called Dot who had inherited the property from her lifelong friend Henrietta. Henrietta passed away about three years before we bought the property. She had lived in our home her entire life, inherited the home from her parents and then left it to Dot as she had no children of her own.”

The old house had four rooms at the front, a wraparound verandah, a sleep-out to the north side and kitchen/dining area at the back with a small patio. “We demolished everything except the front four rooms,” says Katie.

With the house in almost entirely original condition as it was built 100 years ago, it certainly needed some changes to bring it up to modern standards. Almost everything needed to be redone – the work Katie and Simon put in was extensive, as you can see from these photos. I do not know how at some points they did not look at their stripped, bare naked house and scream at the thought of all the work ahead of them. I think I would have.

But Katie and Simon had faith they could do it – and Katie says they were lucky to have fantastic tradesperson recommendations that helped them achieve a smooth build without any dramas. “There were small hiccups along the way but they were easily overcome – we really were so lucky,” she reveals. “It took 15 months including planning and building approvals, architectural plans and engineering drawings. We started in October 2013 and moved in just before Christmas in 2014.”


Stripping off the old veranda.

Now the long original hallway leads to a new, contemporary open-plan living extension at the back of the block. “We always knew that we wanted a beautiful long hallway,” says Katie. “It’s just such a nice entry, very welcoming and kind of grand. And we knew that we wanted the dining, living and kitchen to be open-plan as it suits our young family. We also wanted to have a good view of the backyard from the kitchen, living and dining so I could watch the kids playing outside while getting things done inside.”

As a young family, the open-plan extension suits the Mackoskis well. “We also love that we can close our hallway pivot door once the kids are asleep and relax at the back of the house without disturbing them,” says Katie.


While Katie and Simon loved living in the house, after a while they felt like they wanted to create another home again. But loving the location, they didn’t want their next project to be far. They subdivided their block and built again right next door. “I can’t think of a single downside to living in West Leederville!” says Katie. “That’s why we’re only moving next door. We are so spoilt in West Leederville – we have the most amazing coffee shops literally within a five minute walk – Piccolos, Myrtle Ivy, Mary Street Bakery and Pearth Organic are our favourites. Our kids love train rides so it’s so lovely to be a five minute walk from West Leederville train station. We also love strolls around Lake Monger which is only a ten minute walk away and we often walk into Leederville to stroll around the shops and play at the park. Simon works in the city and his commute time is super quick. We can go for days without driving because everything we need is within a five minute walk. And the best part is we live at the end of a cul-de-sac where its whisper-quiet and our kids have the freedom to ride and scoot amongst loving and mindful neighbours.”

Any advice for future renovators? “Create a budget and get multiple quotes for everything,” advises Katie. “And work with a good architect no matter how simple the extension – a good floor plan is critical and they can help you make the most of natural light.” I think Henrietta would be very happy with how the Mackoskis have given her home a new lease on life… and what they are now doing to her former next-door neighbour’s! Maya x



Engineer Simon Mackoski and his wife Katie Mackoski, a stay-at-home mum and casual marketing consultant, and their three children, Claudia, 6, Scarlett, 4, and Henry, 2

A renovated 1910 weatherboard cottage

West Leederville, Western Australia


Front veranda, central hallway, contemporary open-plan kitchen, living and dining

Katie Mackoski

Marc Ash (who coincidentally took our wedding photos!)


Author: Maya Anderson

When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than House Nerd. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.

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  • Lovely and so happy the owners had the vision to keep the original cottage which makes for a lovely streetscape! I think there is nothing more beautiful that a home with a heritage front retained and a contemporary addition. I wondered if they would share the exterior paint colour? I have the tricky dilemma of a red tin roof on our weatherboard and this looks quite neutral and could be an option I can add to my list to try 🙂

    • Hi Katie! I feel the exact same way about old heritage cottages and lovely contemporary additions. The exterior paint colour is Dulux Rottnest Island in full strength – good paint name huh? 🙂

  • Just gorgeous. We are looking for painters to refresh the outside of our old lady cottage. Could you recommend your painters. Thank you.

  • It’s a very nice reno and I especially love the wall of glass facing the small garden (love the brick wall in the garden, too!). The only thing that I am thrilled about are the pavers in front of the house, in particular the checkered pattern. I feel that it dates the house (IMHO). I would have selected larger pavers of the same hue/texture for a more current look.

  • Gorgeous Reno. I love long hallways.

    The artwork in the lounge room is amazing – is there any chance you know the artist?

    • Hi Kita! Katie says the living room artwork is from Urban Road. She says it’s about 2-3 years old now so not sure they still have it – she thinks possibly they have one of the three still. She’s planning on selling hers though if you’d like to get in touch with her – just shoot me an email and I can pass on her contact details x

  • Hi – what a wonderful reno. We have just bought a 1938 home in Vic Park – would you mind sharing the name of your architect?
    Cheers, Naomi

    • Hi Naomi – we have also just bought a 1938 home in Vic Park – how have you gone finding an architect?
      Cheers, Bobbi

  • Hi Naomi, I actually know the answer to your question as someone emailed me privately with the same query for the owners. It was actually a family friend who did it as a favour, as he is now retired. If you need any other names of architect/designer recommendations, please feel free to drop me an email.