DIY renovation by owners uses recycled bricks and plastic to create an environmentally low impact home

Easy being green: A young couple have created a home for the 21st century using the bones of the original cottage and recycled materials for a minimal environmental impact. Photos: Tatjana Plitt
Easy being green: A young couple have created a home for the 21st century using the bones of the original cottage and recycled materials for a minimal environmental impact. Photos: Tatjana Plitt

A once dark, confined house in Brunswick West, an inner suburb of Melbourne, has been renovated and transformed into a light, bright family home.

The young owners bought the home in 2017, with a vision to create a beautiful place where they could comfortably grow their family into the future, especially as the couple had a baby on the way.

The clients' brief to DOOD designers was to open and connect the space to the north-facing yard.

Bringing much-needed natural light into the home was also paramount, as the existing home was a dark rabbit warren, with no connection to the living spaces.

"They wanted to create a light, inter-connected dwelling, which has a guest wing for visiting parents," says designer Andrew Stapleton.

"They also wanted the 'bones' of the home to stay so they could keep costs down."

"As the bones were in reasonable condition, the clients were keen to retain as much of the existing footprint as possible."

The owners also wanted to be hands on with the renovation and planned to live in the house while they brought it into the 21st century.

"I recall site meetings where the clients were living out of a small room whilst the rest of the house was completely removed; roof and all," Andrew says.

"It was a passion-filled project and the end result is much sweeter because of the clients' dedication."

Sustainability was also something the home owners wanted to incorporate into the renovation to minimise their environmental impact and to reduce heating and cooling costs.

"Many of the materials used in this project are recycled," Andrew says.

"The brick work was recycled from the original house and re-purposed for walls and pavers. The cladding is also made from recycled plastics.

"Passive solar orientation has made this house more comfortable, reducing the reliance on air-conditioning etc."

The steel canopy in the courtyard has been designed to allow climbing plants to trail up and create a natural canopy which will shelter the north facing windows in the summer months.

Interestingly, the home is located just a few blocks from the CERES Community Environment Park in Brunswick East.

The park is a unique, non-profit centre offering an organic grocery and cafe, urban farm and nursery, plus environmental education.

No doubt the young family will make it a frequent destination.

Overall, the addition is a deliberate contrast to the front of the house which is crisp white with an inviting extended tiled porch.

The front garden beds are a nod to the original home, edged in the same recycled bricks used out back.

  • Produced with BowerBird
  • Design: Andrew Stapleton - DOOD Design