When Suzanne Hunt Architect was engaged to renovate a significant heritage home in Dalkeith, Western Australia, she took cues from the property’s past in order to create something new.

Originally designed by Marshall Clifton and built in 1938, the home’s Interwar Old English design had been recognised as an early example of the architect’s work, who was particularly influential in creating the local streetscape. Despite this, it was ‘tired and unloved’ after many decades of mismatched additions and renovations that felt dated, and detracted from the property’s beauty.

‘The original home was on the Municipal Inventory, but at a low level, so it could have been potentially demolished,’ Principal Architect Suzanne explains. ‘We felt it was a privilege to honour Clifton’s work and followed his lead so to speak.’

Having seen only ‘glimpses’ of the Marshall Clifton’s initial vision in the home, they engaged specialist heritage architect Katrina Chisholm, who found the original plans that helped strip the old house back to its core. The overall brief was to create a ‘calm sanctuary’ for the owner, an intensive care doctor, and his son, that could help him wash the daily stress away – particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Our design intent was to have a soft touch, revealing and celebrating the original design like the cushioned stone fireplace in the lounge and the original exposed timber feature beam that had been (sacrilegiously!) covered up,’ she added.

The renovation restored the existing property, only removing an asbestos-riddled lean to, pool, pergolas and garage. They also created a 205sq m addition, which incorporated a new kitchen, dining, living, laundry, two-car garage and powder room.

‘The interior refurbishment of the old house was easy once we removed all the intrusive fabric that had been added over the years,’ Suzanne says. ‘The house seems to come alive, and you saw its true personality.’

In championing the house’s roots, the thoughtful re-design is filled with contemporary nods to its origins. A step-down into leading to the extension’s living spaces helps seamlessly connect the old and new, while the exterior’s charming bagged brickwork, distinctive terracotta tiles and white facade are referenced in the use of Austral La Paloma bricks and the terracotta chimney.

New arched windows help capture beautiful valley views, and sliding glass doors open the spaces for entertaining outside – ensuring the home’s beautiful sense of tranquility. A large circular window is also a playful highlight of the dining room, bringing in natural light, breeze and a peek into the garden, but ‘every room’ has a direct connection to the Japanese-inspired landscaping. They also converted the old living room into a serene ‘Japanese tea room’!

‘This is not about “look at me” design,’ Suzanne notes. ‘It was and will always be about weaving the heritage of a place and integrating this knowledge with our client’s needs into beautiful architecture, internally and externally.’

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