Written by John Williams
Not only did it have an strong street presence and sit on a larger than average site (520sqm), it was also in a premium location, at the top end of one of Herne Bay’s four avenues, just a two-minute walk from the restaurants and cafés along Jervois Road, and in zone for Bayfield Primary School.
‘It was in a pretty bad condition when we bought it, so the idea was to do it up, but live somewhere else in the meantime,” says, Tania. One of the first things the couple did was take on local architect Jason Bailey to come up with a design. “We had friends that had worked with Jason, and we’d looked at another property he’d renovated that was for sale at the time. We liked what we saw,” she says.
“We wanted it to be totally in-keeping with the villa style – modern, but maintaining the traditional detailing. Plus big windows, high ceilings, and lots of light.”
The brief Tania and Phil gave Jason was for four bedrooms and two living areas, plus off-street park for two cars and plenty of storage. “We also wanted a large open-plan living space, but we didn’t want that typical modern, sloping-roofed tack-on on the back,” says, Tania.
The architect recalls he was very conscious to maintain the traditional appearance of the villa, but the real challenge was to give Tania and Phil the spaces they needed. As a consequence, he used up every square centimetre of land that he was allowed to, then went underground to add the extra rooms downstairs.
“It was imperative we maintained and protected the visual appearance of front of the house, that’s why we pushed the carport towards the back of the site, kept it low, and left it open-ended, to maintain a visual openness.”
To visually link the old with the new, Bailey used horizontal weatherboards and timber joinery for the new extension. He also continued the original frieze, found on the façade of the house, around to the back, which is a nice touch.
The prime feature of the rear of the house is its privacy, and that’s largely thanks to the tall, impeccably maintained mature hedging that shields it from virtually every angle. This quiet seclusion allows the couple to enjoy family time or entertain with friends on the large covered deck that is accessed off the lounge and dining area.
Adjacent to what is effectively this outdoor room is a heated plunge pool. “This is a relatively recent addition,” says, Tania. “And it’s been fantastic – we’re so glad we did it. Although it’s relatively small, it’s perfectly adequate for splashing around in – and because it’s extra deep in the middle, the kids can just dive straight in.”
The recurring theme throughout this home is one of quality, and that’s something Tania and Phil insisted on from the outset. “When it came to the interiors, we wanted the best we could get,” says, Tania. “We went to Studio Italia for the Poliform Varenna kitchen, walk-in wardrobes and storage, ECC did the lighting plan and supplied all the fittings, and Aalto Colour came in and worked out the colour scheme.”
“To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about the soft grey colour on walls at first, but I love it now,” she says. “It subtly highlights the white-painted window frames, and they’re the main feature of the living area.” And she’s right. The soaring, four-metre stud of the light-filled living area is one of the standout features of this home.
It’s in this room that the architectural magic happens. As you enter the house and walk down the hallway, past the bedrooms, there is little indication of what lies ahead. Then, bang, it all opens up in front of you.
“It’s a special room,” says the architect. “It needed a sense of arrival, and hence the step down, the high ceilings and large amount of glazing. As the proportion of the room increase, so does the volume,” he adds.
The existing villa contains the four main bedrooms, family bathroom, and the ensuite. This part of the home retains all the features you’d expect from that era, including original ceiling roses, mouldings and high skirtings. Two of the bedrooms also have fireplaces.
Without doubt, the master bedroom is the pick of the rooms at the front of the house, and was originally the parlour, says Tania. It is large and elegant, has a fireplace and a chandelier, and easily accommodates a king-size bed. With its fitted walk-in robe, and fully tiled ensuite, it’s everything a master suite should be. It even has a cute bay window.
The partially subterranean downstairs level has internal access from the carport, and contains the laundry, lots of walk-in storage, plus the fifth bedroom, or teenage lounge, or home office, or home theatre, or wine cellar, or even a gym – it could be adapted to be any of these.
Finally, from a practical point of view, Phil had the foresight to have the home smart wired, plus there is a built-in Bosé sound system. All the lights are on dimmers, and there’s ducted air conditioning in every room.
As a package, this home is hard to beat.
Everything has been thought of and executed impeccably. It has all the functionality and convenience of a modern family home, wrapped in an authentic, character-filled shell.
For Tania and Phil and their two children, it’s time to move onto their next adventure. Tania says she’s not entirely sure what that looks like at this stage, but having seen what they achieved at 18 Albany Rd, it will be something special.
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