Vibrant, open and inviting areas are at the heart of this extensive home renovation.
WORDS Carolyn Brooks
A makeover has been a long time coming for Tony and Harriet Iro’s 1930’s two-storey home.
They bought the house 10 years ago and suspect not much has been done to it in the past few decades.
With daughters aged 12, 14 and 16, the house was literally cramping their lifestyle. Parts of it were completely unused largely due to poor natural light, while the dining table, television and computer were all crowded into one area.
An unused covered deck and spa area was also wasted. The kitchen and bathrooms were dated with heating and insulation needing to be improved in the “dark and cold” house.
Undertaking a major renovation was carefully weighed up against selling the house and buying an already renovated home. But the family loved some aspects of their home and saw that there could be some potential.
“We were unsure whether to sell and move or to renovate and stay,” Tony says.
“But we love where we live and the kids didn’t want to move – their school is just down the road.”
The Iros are a social bunch and like entertaining family and friends. Foodie Tony wanted a fancy kitchen he could enjoy instead of trying to navigate one that lacked bench space, could only fit one person in it and had old appliances.
A full downstairs bathroom was also important so guests didn’t have to traipse through the master bedroom to the ensuite.
With teenage daughters, a central computer area that wasn’t stowed away in a room was needed for internet use and study.
Refresh Renovations project manager Dave Georgetti first met with the Iros in March. He says the renovation is about lots of tweaks to a much loved family home.
“This family likes to spend time and do a lot together – they don’t want to be closed off,” Dave says.
“Everyone always gravitates to areas with natural light.”
Key aims of the renovation are creating a modern home with more usable space, open-plan living and improved indoor-outdoor flow; along with making the home warmer and better suited to teenagers.
The brief was fairly extensive, but at its core was reducing wasted space and improving living areas.
It included a complete internal makeover, a new kitchen, new bathrooms and lots of reconfiguring throughout the house – all to be done largely within the current space with only a couple of small extensions.
Outside, it was tying in areas around the pool and backyard with the new deck.
Other specifics in the brief included internal access from the garage, a second living area with dedicated open-plan computer nook, reconfiguring wasted space in the master bedroom’s ensuite/walk-in wardrobe, adding a full bathroom downstairs, renovating the upstairs bathroom, and upgrading the second downstairs bedroom.
An architectural concept turns the brief into a visual reality that can be tweaked. There was certainly plenty to be considered around this renovation.
Moving the kitchen to the northern side of the house into the unused dining area is to enable direct internal access from the garage.
When arriving home with groceries you want to walk straight into the kitchen.
Skylights will bring in light along with glass doors that can completely open up the area to the deck. A scullery will sit behind the kitchen to add extra kitchen storage, space and preparation space.
Widening the entry hall will also let more light into the central core of the house.
Next to the kitchen will be the dining area, flowing smoothly through to the second living/study space sitting next to a family room encased in glass windows and doors. With the sole household television to be in the family room, a sliding door will enable this room to be closed off from other living areas – useful when the adults are entertaining and the children want to watch television.
Restructuring the master bedroom ensuite/walk-in wardrobe reduces wasted space and increases the clothes hanging area. In the second downstairs bedroom, a wardrobe will be added and an internal door to the old dining area will be walled off to remove the “reception area” feel.
Retaining a wood fire was important and the open fire will be replaced with a Jetmaster steel firebox to burn wood more efficiently while generating more heat. Insulation will be installed around most of the house.
Upstairs, the new bathroom will have a separate shower at floor level instead of losing a few inches to being over a bath. The sloped roof further reduced head height room for the shower and was not ideal for growing girls.
A full internal and external fresh lack of paint will be done with new flooring throughout. The covered deck and spa area on the southern side of the house will be properly insulated and lined.
It will also be brought up to floor level along with the ensuite bathroom. A small extension in between these two areas will create space for the new bathroom.
Outside there will be a new deck along with resurfacing the driveway and adding an attractive glass pool fence to replace the aluminium moduline type. A tilted garage door will be replaced with a sectional garage door for look and function.
“There has been a lot of tweaking because it’s a big project and we really want to get the best use of space.”
Working drawings, with an engineer’s input around the internal wall and beam changes, turns the concept into a workable plan. A site survey was completed and the Iros are waiting for the council to approve their plans before the build can start.
“The concept stage is where you want to spend a lot of time before you get to the detailed drawings,” Dave says.
“We’ve been so thorough to this point that I don’t think we’ll be coming back to make changes which will help us keep on budget.”
While tradespeople can estimate on a concept, they generally need working drawings to accurately quote.
Changes to plans should be avoided during the build stage as costs and time frames can blow out. Dave is optimistic the project will stay within budget. He says it helped that Tony and Harriet were decisive and clear with what they wanted.
“They have been living with a lack of light and a large part of the house not being used at all,” he says.
“I think they’ll find the renovation completely changes their lives, with better living areas and flow.”
Renovation project management
Life is busy for the Iro family, especially for Dad Tony with a heavy work and travel schedule revolving around his rugby league coaching commitments. Being new to the renovation process, employing a project manager was also about tapping into experience and skill.
“I couldn’t imagine doing it ourselves as there is just too much going on,” Tony says.
“We wanted to put it into someone’s hands that we trusted and who could get the job done to a budget and on time.”
He has appreciated how receptive Refresh Renovations consultant Dave Georgetti has been to ideas while also providing honest and useful feedback. It’s a hugely collaborative process.
“There has been a couple of times where we’ve asked for things and he has asked us to reconsider. At the time I was convinced I was right but when I look back now I know it wasn’t and likewise there have been some time where I was right.”
Tony has backed away from some ideas when finding out how expensive they would be. It’s very easy to get over ambitious with renovations too, especially at the beginning.
“Because it’s our first renovation, we’re probably not as prepared as we could have been in terms of what we wanted in the design and it slowed things up a bit,” Tony says.
“Dave has been really patient with us but you have to be sure about everything before you get started.”
The concept stage gave the family a chance to come up with new ideas and consider aspects of the renovation that they had not earlier thought about.
Preparation is key to everything, Tony says. While he expects the renovation may not be all plain sailing, the family can’t wait for the result.
Follow the Iro family in part two of their home renovation in progress and see the stunning finished home.
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Part one of this case study featured on pages 53-57 of Issue 013 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.
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