House of the Week | Hamilton South | Photos

“We wanted it to look like this is how it could have been as an original,” says Hamilton home owner Phil Mcilwain of his newly renovated house.

Phil is a fitter and machinist by trade. His wife Katherine works in logistics, and now the two of them are putting the finishing touches on a rebuild of a 1928 California bungalow in Hamilton South. Because it’s a heritage facade, it looks original but all the materials are new.  

“Having never had embarked on such a major project before, my picture of success was to finish with a home we were both happy with, and no divorce in the process! With only a few weeks to go to complete the project, it seems highly likely that we will achieve both of these important outcomes,” Katherine says.

HARD WORK: The Mcilwain family are thrilled with their renovated bungalow. Pictures: Paul Dear

HARD WORK: The Mcilwain family are thrilled with their renovated bungalow. Pictures: Paul Dear

Their two daughters and two whippets are also ready to enjoy their renovated home, complete with a new pool.

The couple purchased the house in 2014 and first built the garage, Phil’s pride and joy, in the backyard. They lived there until May of this year, when they moved nearby to start the enormous changes. The first thing they did was remove a massive African olive tree that spanned theirs and their neighbour’s yard.

Then they put in the DA in for the house, as it’s in a heritage façade area. Because of the regulations they had to keep the house on one floor.

“We had to redesign the single level, and we’re happy with how that looked. The girls desperately wanted stairs, but they’ll get over that,” Katherine says.

The leadlight windows at the front of the house have been recreated based on the original design. Ron Jensen from Heritage Stained Glass adjusted the design to fit in the shape of the windows and changed the colour from blue to yellow.

“It was one set of windows originally, now there’s two, sort of a nod to the original house,” Katherine says.

Their builder, Jamie Paterson, spent a lot of time on the gables. It’s all new wood but he copied the original style exactly.

Built in 1928, the four-bedroom house was originally terracotta. The previous owners had lived in it for 30 years and raised four children there. The floor plan is completely different now, and the house comes out further than it did. The previous house ended halfway through the current kitchen. The old kitchen was buried in the middle of the house. Phil said in the early ’80s a skillion roof had been put up, and a side decking went all the way along the side of the house. The front door and entrance was also along the side.

“The main bathroom was terrible, it had wood floors. We used to shower in the laundry shower and that leaked across the floor. It’s so nice to have things that function properly,” Katherine says. “[The original had] dark wood colours. We wanted something to bring in the light. It feels a bit more depressing when it’s dark.”

Katherine was concerned about decision fatigue. Her designer Helen Brunsdon, of Swish Concepts, gave them eight A4 pages of options for design, easing the process.

“We’ve never used an interior designer before. It sounds really flashy, but it’s actually quite practical. She was great in the kitchen. I knew I wanted something white, but I didn’t want white and boring, so she suggested the darker colours to contrast with the white,” Katherine says.

The granite on the breakfast bar on the deck is called “Brazilian Blue In The Night”. It’s custom made and mounted onto the glass. A fabricator created a stainless steel frame for the granite. The island in the kitchen is made of Caeserstone. They blended the darker colours with the traditional style and went with a modern waterfall edge, also as a practicality as less crevices make it easier to clean.

The dark splashbacks were done by Ed and Lisa at Splashbacks with Glass. The splashbacks are wrapped around the window and the glass frames it all. The window looks like one continuous splashback in the evening because it blends with the night outside. If you look closely, you’ll notice the splashbacks contain little sparkles.

The Mcilwain’s team also included electrician Glenn Wilton of Wilton Electrical,Peter Pasovski of Custom Design Kitchens and architect Chris Toner of Toner Designs.

“We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to be guided by these experienced people,” Katherine says.

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