New Life To The Queenslander
Renovating an iconic Queenslander is all about knowing what stays, what goes and where the charm just needs a fresh coat of paint.
Trumping the pineapple and casting a grandiose shadow over meter maids, there is nothing more authentic to the Sunshine State than the Queenslander home. Distinctive timber homes with sprawling patios and broad double-hinged windows once reflected a basic need to keep cool. But, now that air-conditioning is the well-loved third child in a standard Queensland family, Queenslander style can be less about function and more about flair.
Brisbane builder Justin Bowden, the younger half of the T&J Bowden father-son construction team, says Queenslanders are a “celebration of workmanship”. His team’s stunning reinvigoration of a boringly standard Queenslander in Holland Park is testament to the fact that he certainly knows a thing or two about injecting new life into the old relics.
Justin admits the Holland Park transformation was not without its challenges. “When undertaking any significant renovations on a home, there is often the surprise of the unknown. Often the existing home may not be level, or parallel, or square. Sometimes it is none of those, and yet the new work must still be built correctly,” he said.
Talk Like a Seasoned Renovator:
Fretwork: an intricate design cut into a material by a fretsaw.
Transom Window: a window above a horizontal crosspiece separating it from a door/window.
Cornice: an ornamental molding that runs along the top of a wall.
VJ Panelling: Vertical join panelling.
The brief for the renovation didn’t exactly form a quick todo list either. It read: Raise the house and build-in under, and extensively remodel the upper-level current house to include four spacious bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, study/library, spacious open-plan kitchen with butler’s pantry/dining/living, laundry and media room, plus lower-level outside alfresco decking. Move the house forward on the block to maximise backyard space. Street appeal is important – no front staircase, front portico/ porch with a white front door with transoms/fanlights leading into a wide entrance hall or foyer. Put simply, create a modern family home that retains the traditional Queenslander style and delivers the home comforts of today.
There is no gaudy or pretentious “look-at-me I’ve been renovated” street appeal to the completed home, and Justin counts this as its more impressive feature. “The front façade of the home is its strongest feature, so much care should be taken to get this part of the design right. We suggested options that complemented the street appeal and worked with the existing gardens, trees and other structures on the property to create a harmonious overall finished product. The home is eye-catching, yet sits quite harmoniously in a street of quality Queenslanders.”
It is obvious when looking at the home that its façade was an exercise in upstyling rather than restyling. The original window fixtures and fretwork were kept, but the volume was turned down on the colour scheme, which went from Queenslander green to a crisp, modern combination of grey and white.
Justin says the building of the lower floor brought with it the opportunity to introduce some subtle modern touches with Hamptons inspiration. Tall, timber joinery and transom windows welcome more natural light into the home, and by mimicking the weatherboard exterior and corrugated roofing of the original home, the lower level looks like it has been there forever.
“Creating a seamless extension is the goal, so that no one can tell later where the old part stops and the new begins.”
Justin’s other pick for favourite new feature is the rich and warm spotted-gum flooring that spills from the inside ground level on to the back deck. The spotted gum is grown in certified Queensland forests, adding even more Queensland spirit to the home.
Historically, Queenslanders are not furnished with the luxury of a butler’s pantry. Here, the modern inclusion was a must. “The butler’s pantry has helped to create a kitchen area where the large island bench can be a hub of family activity rather than used for preparation, or cooking and cleaning,” says Justin.