Owen and Tom, a young professional couple, engaged Sandbox Studio to transform their rundown Victorian terrace in Paddington, Sydney, into a modern home, while restoring its heritage character. We designed a minimalist alteration and addition, increasing the space and light without overdeveloping the site.
The living room is at the front of the house, and the kitchen and dining are in the new rear extension, with a high ceiling and high-level windows creating volume, spaciousness, and bringing in light. Large bi-folding doors open to the sunny courtyard, bookended by a new studio with a bedroom and bathroom. The open timber staircase filters light, breeze and sightlines, and the first-floor attic is now a cosy new bedroom/study, with a dormer window for natural light and rooftop views.
What was the brief?
The streets of Paddington in Sydney are lined with beautiful Victorian terrace houses, but behind the heritage façades, the interiors are often narrow, dark and with no outdoor connection. Owen and Tom, a young professional couple, engaged Sandbox Studio to transform their rundown Victorian terrace into a modern home, increasing the space and light and restoring its heritage character.
What were the key challenges?
While the challenges of a Victorian terrace are often similar, the design resolution differs. We believe diversity of thought is essential for this resolution and bring our clients into a collaborative design process – we call it “co-create” – focusing on a functional end result and always striving for good design. Owen and Tom have a passion for design and a sharp eye for detail, and were very involved throughout the design, approvals and construction processes.
With 52 square metres of floor space, the two-storey terrace was similar in size to a small two-bedroom apartment. We designed a minimalist, modern alteration and addition, increasing the floor area to 92 square metres without overdeveloping the site.
The living, kitchen, dining and courtyard were the main focus of the design as Owen and Tom love to cook and entertain family and friends. The living room is at the front of the house, with the staircase, WC and laundry providing a partial separation from the kitchen and dining area in the new rear extension. The high ceiling creates volume and spaciousness, and a high-level window and operable skylights bring northern light deep into the kitchen, filtering into the living room. Large bi-folding doors open to the sunny courtyard, bookended by a new studio. With a bedroom and bathroom, it provides a separate yet connected space for Owen and Tom’s overseas guests to stay.
The open staircase – a collaboration between us, the clients and the builder, Ryan Jones – is designed to filter light throughout the house as well as breeze and sightlines. The Victorian Ash timber creates a feeling of warmth and complements the original brick wall, which has been exposed to add texture and retain character. The clean and minimal white joinery palette keeps the house light and bright, with plants and furniture adding vibrant and nature-inspired colour.
The bedrooms and bathrooms are simple, comfortable and functional. We transformed the first-floor attic into a cosy new bedroom/study, adding a dormer window for natural light and views over the Paddington rooftops. The front façade has been restored with tessellated tiles on the front porch, and internal plantation shutters to enhance the heritage character. Paddo Terrace is now a light-filled modern family home, with a sense of spaciousness beyond its small footprint. By co-creating with the clients, we designed a house that supports their lifestyle and aspirations and is sympathetic to the Victorian-era architecture and streetscape.
Below are some quotes from the client, Owen:
“We enjoy entertaining family and friends. The long island kitchen bench connecting through to our dining area is great for smaller groups. In summer we can open up the bifold doors on the house and the studio, doubling the space for a great indoor/outdoor environment.”
“Terrace houses always come with the expectation of dark rooms. Not everywhere can get the light. The highlight window in the extension lets in so much light. The morning winter sun beams all the way through to our front lounge room, and there is never a need to flick a light on during the day even in our coldest months.”
“I have always wanted to renovate a terrace house and have been able to envisage the future state whenever looking at a ‘renovators delight.’ Starting with a small property made sense in many ways, but does present design challenges. Sandbox Studio really listened to my ideas whilst adding in small touches that I would have never thought of or considered alone.”
“We believe diversity of thought is essential for the design resolution and bring our clients into a collaborative process, focusing on a functional end result and always striving for good design. We call it ‘co-creating’.” – Mukesh Vanjani
“Owen and Tom have a passion for design and a sharp eye for detail, and were very involved throughout the design, approvals and construction processes.” – Dain McClure-Thomas
“By co-creating with the clients, we designed a house that supports their lifestyle and aspirations and is sympathetic to the Victorian-era architecture and streetscape.” – Dain McClure-Thomas
“We designed a minimalist, modern alteration and addition, increasing the space and light, without overdeveloping the site.” – Luke Carter