Sophie and her husband, Aaron, live with their two children in their colonial Queenslander, locally known as The White House. Located in Paddington, they have spent the past 2.5 years planning and executing the renovation of their home. The result is Braeon, a stunning Queenslander that simply took my breath away.
The house was not always the vision that it is today. Sophie and Aaron purchased their home in 2014 and while it was well maintained, it had not been altered since the 1970s. Original features of the home were hidden behind asbestos cladding. In some ways, the renovation of the home was an adventure of sorts, a discovery of treasures that had been hidden for too long.
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Today the house is a magnificent family home.
There are original coffered 3.4m (~12ft) ceilings in the formal sitting room, including an original fireplace. The fireplace is double sided, opening both to the formal living room and dining room. An exposed chimney stack continues to the ground floor where there is an original copper pot that was used for heating water before the electricity network was established.
“The living and dining room we feel are the spaces and times best spent. We love to cook together as a family and use the large free standing stove every day to produce the flavour of the moment.”
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The master bedroom is a true parents retreat with a large double shower and vanity, and a free standing stone bath. In the bedroom there is a cathedral ceiling with exposed beams, creating a lovely feeling of open space.
On the ground floor, there are additional bedrooms as well as a walk-in-cellar and a library that overlooks a courtyard. There is also a family room and gymnasium on this level. It was their vision that this area of the house would feel like a day spa. To this end, there is a dedicated space for a sauna inside the adjoining bathroom.
Braeon is filled with original features that have been discovered throughout the renovation process. There are architectural mouldings, french doors, VJ walls, oversized double hung windows, two fireplaces and original copper pot used for water heating.
The fireplace is a story on its own and was completely covered with asbestos when Sophie and Aaron purchased the home.
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After removing the asbestos cladding, the bricks were sand blasted which brought them back to their original condition. If you look closely enough, you can see pieces of shell littered throughout, added when the bricks were made locally so many years ago.
I’ve mentioned renovations in my Instagram posts where the traditional, old section of the house (which is usually the upper floor in a raise and excavate extension) does not match the newer renovated areas. Sometimes the houses are set up as a dual living space, with a second kitchen. While I understand the rationale for that (teenager retreat, airBNB), my preference is for a house that flows – where the extension is sympathetic to traditional features of the home.
Sophie and Aaron have exceeded expectations in this regard. In the extension, Sophie painstakingly matched the wooden pine floors in the original part of the house to maintain this flow (hallway photo below). Rather than feeling like old meets new, it instead, feels like it was always there. Sophie has also matched the wide VJs found in the upper level in the lower level as well continuing the same wooden skirting, cornice and picture rails to achieve this seamless flow.
WHY A QUEENSLANDER?
Braeon is the third Queenslander that Sophie and Aaron have owned. Their first home was a workers cottage in Auchenflower which they raised, extended and built under, followed by a tri-gabled Queenslander in Red Hill that was refurbished and restored.
Living in a Queenslander is not new for Sophie. Aside from a short stint overseas, Sophie has always lived in these magnificent homes.
“Having been born and bred in Queensland and always having lived in a Queenslander home, my knowledge and love for them, you could say, has been ingrained since birth. We have never contemplated living in any other style of home”.
Sophie and Aaron spent 18 months planning the renovation, followed by a, roughly, 14 month build. Before even planning the renovation, they lived in the house for a full year.
“I believe it is best to live in a house for at least four seasons before you plan a renovation so you can truly understand the effect of the seasons on the liveability of the home and what areas require more light or less light, more air flow or less air flow, and the right type of glass for sound or sun.”
Sophie, a former Infrastructure Solicitor, project managed the renovation from conception to completion. She designed everything from the layout to finishes and soft furnishings. The plans were produced by BrisDesign.
The renovation was extensive – walls were removed, the house footprint was extended at both the rear and the side and it was also excavated and built underneath.
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SOPHIE’S TOP TIP
While some people (like me) may find the thought of a renovation of this size to be simply overwhelming, Sophie has become addicted to the entire process – from conception of ideas to the final dressing and styling.
I asked Sophie what is the single piece of advice that she can offer future renovators?
“Spend as much time planning as you can. The more time you spend planning, the easier the build will be and the more accurate your coatings will be. Never be in a rush to start the build component.”
SOPHIE’S FAVOURITE FEATURES / ROOM
This question was a little difficult for Sophie to answer because she has designed her dream home. Everything has a special place in her heart.
“I absolutely love our master wing which consists of a walk in robe ensuite and the most breathtaking exposed beam ceilings and view of the city from our bed. I also really love our family room which is a cross between a balcony and a sun room with large pocket sliders that open the room on three sides with a frameless glass balustrade. This provides uninterrupted views of Mt Coot-tha . It really feels like you are in a tree house.
I also adore the kitchen and butler’s pantry! It is truly the heart of our home, connected to our pool and deck and informal and formal living areas. I love cooking in the kitchen, it’s such a joy.”
It has been such a delight to talk with Sophie! I’m looking forward to our conversations when her and Aaron start their next renovation that we can follow from start to finish.
If you love to read about how real people live in or renovate their Queenslanders, then be sure to read Emily and Shaun’s story in Real Life: Ipswich Queenslander Renovation and Lauren’s story in Real Life: Wilston Queenslander.
If you would like to have you (and your house!) featured in an article just like this one, then get in touch (DM on Instagram or email me).
This beautiful home is located in Paddington and is currently listed for sale through Urban Property Agents and can be found here. The agents are Ben Wakely and Jason Cherrett.
Photos by Eric Milliken of Digital Realestate.