Interior designer Amy Dawson can transform broken into beautiful – this renovation project is proof.
Affectionately dubbed “The Broken House” by Amy’s children, Sophia and Ted, the transformation of this home is an inspiring example of a renovation completed on a tight budget and schedule.
Looking beyond the dated peach interior palette, the patchwork of mismatched carpet and the copious quantities of concrete that needed to be removed from the rear of the property, Dawson focused on the quaint architectural art-deco elements: lead light windows, high ceilings, picture rails and timber fretwork. What Dawson saw was a home of great potential.
The “broken house” in Ada Street, Waratah, was the first full-scale renovation project for Dawson.
“I have always lived in the homes while I have renovated them, so having that extra mortgage to pay meant that time was literally money,” Dawson says.
The true strength and ability of an interior designer is best tested by small-budget, large-scale projects. This renovation also tested Dawson’s ability to complete a project within a strict time limit.
A key component in this dramatic transformation lay in the redesign and reconfiguring of the internal layout of the home. The new reconfiguration allowed room for a third bedroom and a second bathroom.
“With a little bit of creative thinking and some fine-tuning I was able to reconfigure the existing footprint of the home to make it into a modern, usable space,” Dawson says.
One of the most significant changes was the removal of an existing wall between the kitchen and the living area, creating “a wonderful open-plan space”. Additionally, large timber sliding doors were added at the rear of the house, creating a seamless connection between the interior and the new blackbutt timber deck.
Blonde oak flooring was installed after discovering that the original timber floors were quite patchy “I just couldn't replace them with a laminate, so after a lot of deliberation I went with a beautiful oak floor, completely out of line with the price bracket of the house, but totally worth it,” Dawson says.
Jesse of JSSS Electrical “who was amazing to work with” created a clean, modern finish with LED lighting throughout the house. Dawson selected two statement lighting pieces: a Schots Home Emporium blonde timber and white metal industrial style pendant for the dining area and a Milly & Eugene rattan pendant in the foyer.
The kitchen selections included white Shaker-style cabinetry and matte black hardware against a splashback of white, handmade, matte finish, subway tiles. Quantum Quartz bench tops in Bianco Venato and a Belfast ceramic sink combined to achieve a classic, timeless and fresh kitchen.
The kitchen was quite tight on space so Dawson designed built-in storage and an IT desk that ran along the wall in the dining room.
“I was really happy with how the custom joinery in the dining room came together. It offered a little extra storage and functionality without compromising on space,” she says.
Consistent throughout, matte white tiles were selected for the bathroom walls against a palette of soft grey and white geometric pattern floor tiles. A free-standing bathtub introduced a lovely organic form, while a space-saving wall-hung vanity with timber top introduced a natural element and textural contrast to the room.
As with all major projects, the renovation wasn’t without hiccups. A large volume of old concrete in the backyard required removal. It wasn’t until they began removing the concrete that they realised the enormity of the task. The concrete removal, as well as being a back-breaking task, cut hard into the renovation budget.
“Very talented handyman” Peter Thirkell worked tirelessly to refinish the exterior detailing and painstakingly restored the lead light windows at the front of the home.
The home was re-clad in Wethertex, Colorbond Evening Haze (half strength), while the red tile roof was scrapped and replaced with a Colorbond roof in Surfmist. These bold choices required significant financial outlay, but dramatically improved the overall look of the house.
The addition of a pair of Beacon Lighting black lantern exterior pendants along with a white picket fence and a lush, perfectly manicured lawn, all combined to make a dramatic difference to the property.
This once two-bedroom, single-bathroom cottage had now been transformed into a light, fresh and modern three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
Once the renovations were complete, Dawson furnished the property for sale, and again, demonstrated how an innate sense of style can deliver on even the most limited budget.
“I had a few items I had used previously in storage, but the majority of the items in the house were “inexpensive furniture & accessories from Mocka Australia, IKEA and Kmart.”
Having spent so little on the staging furniture, Amy decided a dramatic statement piece of art was needed; a bold piece that would complete the look perfectly.
“I chose a beautiful painting by artist Sarah Brooke and it really was the hero of the space,” Dawson says.
That painting now hangs in Dawson’s home – a reminder of her first large-scale project and, I would hope, a reminder of her talent and skill as a designer and her ability to turn broken into beautiful.