There is such thing as too much choice, and when you own a furniture and homewares store and you’re attempting a home renovation, making a decision can be near to impossible. “Being exposed to so much every day made it hard as I’d love something then get sick of it quickly,” explains Andrew Algar, owner of Contents International Design. “So I tried hard to find different, natural finishes that wouldn’t date and would always be beautiful.”
A once dated terrace in Sydney’s Bondi Junction, Andrew and his wife Michelle lived in the home for two years before starting work; a considerable time when you find out what they went through. “Whenever it rained, the kitchen was 10cm underwater so we always had kitchen shoes ready at the entrance… and then there was the very old, steep timber staircase that was a hard negotiation sober, let alone at night!”
But living in the home for some time did have its benefits, with the couple changing their renovation plans once they got to know the space better. What was going to be an extension with some cosmetic changes instead became a full-blown demolition. “We soon realised most of what was there wasn’t worth building off, so we gutted it, only leaving the façade and side walls.”
The major transformation, which saw the attic turn into a third floor complete with bedroom and study, took 11 months, a shock for the first-time renovators. “This was our first house and our first reno so we had no previous experience to compare it to,” says Andrew. “Anyone who’s renovated or done any building understands that the whole process is trying, but it’s all for a good cause and the end result will make all that go away.”
Now, with a finished home, it’s difficult to pick a favourite part, though the staircase does get a special mention. “It’s a feature piece that is the centre of the home and links everything together. I am so happy with how it turned out, it was exactly as I’d imagined, just getting there was harder than I thought!”
Also worthy of note are the attic windows, which ended up being a bargain that transformed the space. “In the attic, we originally had a single dormer window looking out the front. It wasn’t until the place was gutted that I took a ladder up and realised you could see Botany Bay across to Kurnell from there! So we changed the DA and put in a full size dormer window facing the other way.” Paying a small council fee and with the materials already accounted for, the room was completely converted for a low price. “It now has dramatically more space with a view and a heap more light that pours down the open staircase.”
The finished product is a character home brought back to life. And in my opinion, new builds can never beat that!