Designing Queenslander Reno #4

I love character houses. They throw up lots of challenges, but reward you with a beautiful feeling of satisfaction when you respect and pay homage to their past, while at the same time welcoming its character into the modern era.

The new house will pay homage to its past, retaining original features like its VJ walls and timber floors. Overall it will be modern, bright, and vibrant. The lively colour scheme will reflect the vibrancy of the family who end up living here. The dominant colour scheme is a cool pale blue, chosen for its fresh, but calming, effect. Some contrasting bright and cheerful mandarin highlights will add a burst of fun and happiness, complemented by some modern copper metallics and warm timbers, to add warmth and cosiness.

We’re yet to trace its exact origins, but records show the original bungalow was built pre-1920. It’s your typical Queenslander cottage, elevated on stumps and built in tin and timber. It has a front verandah and a street-facing gabled timber porch. The step-rail stairs run parallel to the verandah, and it has casement windows with skillion sunhoods.  

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The front door, with breezeway above, opens to a central passageway with arches that runs through the centre of the four-room core. This house used three of the rooms as bedrooms and the fourth room as the lounge room. Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry were external to the main cottage. A later extension added a small kitchen and bathroom to the back of the house. It’s dingy and unattractive and luckily post 1945.

The plan:

  1. Remove the existing kitchen, bathroom, and back stairs.
  2. Move and raise the house to habitable room height (we’re big on ceiling heights of at least 2700mm).
  3. Frame underneath and build internal stairs at back of house.
  4. Renovate upstairs: frame the existing lounge room to become bedroom four. The porch under the gable will become the ensuite to the master bedroom. Build robes and desks into bedrooms. Brand new bathroom and separate toilet.
  5. Build underneath: open-plan living, dining, kitchen, powder room, laundry, and tandem garage.


We will deliver a beautiful character-filled house to the market. It will be stylish, functional, and best of all for busy families: it will be low maintenance. I see an active family living in this house, who will embrace the use of bold colour and patterns in an easy-living quality house that blends original character with a modern, open-plan extension, and some surprise designer touches.























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