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Jun 2018
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These homeowners had a clear goal to maximise space and repurpose the area under their house. 

Before and After photos
Article: Carol Watson

When Simon and Sophie Barwick moved to Melbourne, from the UK, in 1999, little did they know that their journey would one day take them to the shores of Moreton Bay in Brisbane, Queensland. Their big old 1920’s Queenslander home was built in Indooroopilly and after some years, was relocated via road to Primrose Parade, Wynnum. The previous owners had undertaken some renovations to restore the Art Deco interior of the 3 bedroom 2 bathroom home and when Simon and Sophie took it on, they recognised the potential to add further enhancements to the house. “We wanted to maximise our use of the house while we live here and to increase its resale value should we ever decide to sell,” said Simon.

In true Queenslander style, the house was built on stumps, which meant there was 210sqm of underutilised space below the house. As an artist, Simon needed a dedicated area to allow him to create and store his oil paintings. Another bedroom, a bathroom and laundry were also part of the plans for the space.

From previous renovating experience, Sophie and Simon knew they needed to be absolutely clear on what they wanted from the renovation – which meant that they could the get an accurate quote for the work. “Get it down on paper before you start and have the plans drawn up professionally,” explained Simon. With detailed drawings in hand, Rachel and her building team were able to walk around the site, see what needed to be done and provide a realistic quote! This is key to Refresh's offer - being able to help you through every step of the process, starting from advice and ideas, to concept drawings, detailed drawings and of course the final build

The first step was to excavate the area to put in the foundations. The house was on a sloping block, which added to the complexity of the job. The unsealed driveway of grit and pebbles was continually washed down into the street during heavy rainfall. This needed to be resolved with a more permanent, weather resistant surface. Brushed concrete proved to be the most effective solution.

“We wanted to build the new walls around the stumps so that they were hidden and it would look like the house wasn’t on stumps,” said Simon.  “Refresh did this really well. We had to put in one steel support and they were able to box it in, out of sight and in line with the existing structure of the house,” he explained.

Perched on the top of the hill, the house enjoys the cooling breeze coming off the ocean. By installing a large bi-fold window in the studio area, the room now has some reprieve from the heat of the Wynnum subtropical climate. Boasting a new bedroom with built-in wardrobe and ceiling fan, a modern bathroom with twin rain shower heads and wall hung vanity, an art studio and a spacious laundry, this home sets the benchmark in how to make maximum use out of what was previously, an underutilised outdoor storage space.  

“We hadn’t moved out of the house, upstairs is its own self-contained, 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house so we were not reliant on finishing the project in order to move in,” said Simon.

Simon and Sophie now have a super functional area and the value it adds to their house is huge,” said Rachel.  “Their input to the design was fantastic and even the final decision to go with floor tiles rather than the original proposal of polished concrete, ended up adding warmth to the new area and really suits the style of their house,” she explained.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.