Melbourne Renovation: 1920s Californian Bungalow

October 23, 2015

Affection for a local community or suburb is one of the many reasons why homeowners decide to renovate, even though selling and moving may eventually cross their minds.

When you’ve found a suburb where you feel truly at ease, settling down and spreading your roots is often the best choice

This was the case for a Melbourne-based couple whose 1920s California bungalow was in the perfect spot to live out the rest of their days, though in dire need of rejuvenation.

To bring their ageing home up to a standard in which they can enjoy the time spent at home, they enlisted the expertise of Architect Hewson, a firm based in Collingwood, Victoria.


With the intent to stay put until retirement, the homeowners decided they needed a space to cater to their needs for general living and entertaining, while in keeping with the historic appeal of the streetscape.

With this direction in mind, an addition was designed that complemented the existing structure but also took a shape of its own, providing context between old and new.

Key to the new addition was the ability for it to address the absence of natural light so typical of earlier 20th century buildings.

The California bungalow section of the project would serve as an enclosure for smaller intimate spaces, which would feel appropriate given the ceiling height, while the newer section would receive high ceilings and more open-plan rooms, as well as abundant light.

Careful design was needed to ensure that a connection and context remained between the differing volumes of the new and original sections.

Changes to the front allowed for expansion of the kitchen, since the dining space was moved to the new addition.

The front living room was also moved to the rear of the property to form a new open-plan living and dining area.

The front room, which was originally the living room, has been turned into a comfortable guest bedroom.

The guest bathroom was redesigned to allow for a laundry and storage area that was separate from the WC, while the new and extensive bathroom was designed to provide modern amenities and an aesthetically pleasing space.

To connect both sections of the home, new timber flooring was laid throughout, providing a continuous visual and material connection that flows throughout the spaces.

The new living and dining areas open out onto a rear deck, providing ample room for enjoying the outdoors during the warmer months, while a large, luxurious open fireplace dominates the living room and provides a focal gathering point for enjoying the space during the colder months.

Externally, the new addition is a contrast to the refurbished bungalow. Its stark black cladding and strong geometric presence establish a clear and concise visual distinction between the old and new.

The large northfacing windows ensure plenty of light enters the home during the day and provide privacy from the neighbours to the east and west of the site. Clerestory windows also provide ample passive ventilation.

With a plan for passive environmental control, the home has been designed to keep cool in summer and warm in winter through insulation.

The choice to keep the west-facing boundary of the home free of windows allowed the designers to regulate the home’s internal temperatures without having to add active cooling and heating. Additionally, photovoltaic solar panels were added to the new construction.

These have the impact of creating a home with minimal need for the power grid while also earning the residence a bonus income from the unused electricity that is fed back into the grid.

With this project, the aim to provide the couple with a home that they can be comfortable in for the foreseeable future, which provides all the basic comforts has been thoroughly realised — and the owners couldn’t be happier.

Project details:


Kitchen Tasmanian oak stained ebony/Jacobean with Bona floor stains
Dining Tasmanian oak stained ebony/Jacobean with Bona floor stains
Living Tasmanian oak stained ebony/Jacobean with Bona floor stains
Bedroom Tasmanian oak stained ebony/Jacobean with Bona floor stains
Outdoor Kwila decking boards with Cutek Clear Stain from Tait Timber & Hardware, Vic
Bath/Laundry/WC Natural Grey 300x100mm tiles from Signorino Tile Gallery, Richmond Vic


Kitchen/dining/living/bedroom Porter’s
Paints Bianca, skirting boards and trims in Dulux Absolute White semi-gloss
Outdoor Weathertex Weathergroove panels painted in Dulux Sleepy Charcoal
Weatherboards Wattyl Alta Sierra timber trims, Wattyl Flurry


Benchtop Kitchen by IKEA
Splashback Laminex Metaline in Sophisticat
Cabinetry Kitchen by IKEA


Cabinetry ADP Endro vanity unit
Basin Alape Absolut inset
Tiles/walls floor Natural Grey 300x100mm tiles (floor) and 300x100mm White Wall tiles from Signorino Tile Gallery Richmond, Vic
Sanitary fixtures Ideal Standard back-towall toilet suite
Taps Phoenix Liscio chrome
Shower/bath Vizzini Sabano free-standing bath, Nikles Pure twin shower with Raindance showerhead 250


Brightgreen D900 LED downlights, pendant light x 3 (clients’ own)


Glass Double-glazed Aneeta sashless double-hung windows with 152mm Breezeways
Louvres Low-e glass, frames powdercoated aluminium in black


Roof Colorbond Woodland Grey
Decking 19x86mm Kwila boards (Tait Timber)
Landscaping By clients

For more information

This project was designed by Architect Hewson
Level 1/29 Derby Street, Collingwood Vic 3066
Phone 0419 158 652
Email [email protected]

Phone 0427 236 252

This project was built by Whelan Paradigms
Builder Tim Whelan
Phone 0412 939 235
Words by James Cleland
Photography by Sean Fennessy

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