100-year-old villa transformation

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ARTICLE Holly-Jean Brooker IMAGES Scott Espie

With easy access to the city, and country life within arm’s reach, the location was ideal. They decided to look locally for a lifestyle section where they could spread out and relax on the weekends after a busy work week. But the ‘looking’ part was a challenge. Fortunately, the McBeaths’ connected with local real estate agent, Cherry Cooper, who did the hard work for them, keeping in touch when suitable new listings came up.

When their agent called offering a private viewing of a 1920s villa prior to the listing hitting the market, they jumped at the chance. On the first visit, the pair immediately fell in love with the classic style of the home and the open, leafy seating. Kate explains, “The house had a great feel, fantastic proportions with large rooms and a high stud. The setting was perfection – with mature trees, privacy, a gorgeous pool, lovely gardens, a stunning view down to the estuary and it was only a few minutes to the motorway.” The house was perfect. And the same day, it was theirs!

Renovated kitchen with exposed brick wall feature

It was clear from the outset that there was some work to do to get the house modernised, with the kitchen being high priority. Waiting 20 months before undertaking the renovation process gave the family ample time to ‘sit’ in the home, and determine exactly what they wanted to achieve from a renovation.

They agreed on a multi-phase process, focused initially on overhauling the downstairs interior. Having had project management support for their earlier new build, they enlisted the help of Refresh Renovations, for the design and build. Kate explains, “The time and expertise required to coordinate and schedule the work cannot be underestimated!”.

As part of the internal overhaul, the kitchen was the essential focus, with the aim to repurpose underused space in the scullery to create more functionality. When it came to the design elements Kate and Hamish admit they were hands on.

“We were pretty involved in the concept and design phase and had fairly strong ideas about what we wanted.” Their brief was clear when it came to the materials to use – they wanted white engineered stone, with lacquer-paint matched cabinetry, partnered with an exposed brick wall feature and use of natural pale oak.

U-shaped kitchen renovation

However, the technical and practical details were left in the hands of the professionals.

“In terms of the detail – the dishwasher placement, which drawers go where, etc. – we weren’t so concerned about those aspects. People who design kitchens everyday tend to know the best and most practical way to lay them out,” Kate explains. Overall, it was a collaborative approach. Some of their favourite features of the home are design elements the Refresh Renovations team introduced, such as the large window installed in the lounge room, and the oak slat wall separating the kitchen from the lounge.

Next to the kitchen, the living area was opened up to create the ideal entertaining area. Storage areas were developed and the house was updated with modern comforts. The interior of the home was painted and refreshed, with an LED lighting upgrade and designer pendants installed. And noticeably, the neglected downstairs area was overhauled to create a lighter, brighter and more useable living space.

Open-plan lounge and kitchen

Kate admits that the renovation wasn’t all smooth sailing. Again, the McBeaths’ were thankful for the expertise of their project managers. Renovation specialist, Kim Reiche explains, “The property had very little information on record. The earliest documentation on record at the council was from 1992, and were very poor quality. Correlating that information at the start was the most difficult”, she explains. “There were a number of irregularities as the project moved forward”, which the Refresh team dealt with.

One of these ‘irregularities’ was major Kate explains, “Unfortunately, once the kitchen was removed and gib taken down we discovered that the ceiling was missing a critical structural beam. There was no way to have known this beforehand and without the expertise of Refresh team Kim and Dave we could have ended up with the site shut down until the roof was compliant.”

“Refresh Renovations managed to keep the site moving although obviously some major areas had to halt and be rescheduled until we had structural engineering and council involvement with sign off. At the end of the day we now know that the structural work is done and that we are walking around on a safe floor upstairs!”

Kitchen island in renovated kitchen and open-plan lounge

With phase one complete, the Refresh team are making plans to begin phase two of the renovation, involving a renovation upstairs, and further remodelling in the outdoor living space, with plans for a covered patio, pool house and new garaging.

The McBeaths’ were really happy with the renovation process, explaining, “We are thrilled with the overall result of this phase. We’re enjoying a bit of a break from renovating, but we are excited to keep going as the impact of the investment and lifestyle improvements are so exciting to see come to life. The Refresh team and the trades people they work with are excellent. We are very happy with result and the quality of work.”

If you would like a free, no obligation initial design and build consultation to discuss options and ideas for your next home renovation project, enquire online or use the enquiry form alongside to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project.

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Before photo of dark, villa kitchen Before photo of outdated villa kitchen and lounge Before photo of outdated and dark villa kitchen Before photo of badly configured scullery