I’m writing today’s post with some trepidation. I try not to be overly critical of design decisions because it’s not my house, it’s not my money being spent and it’s not my vision. It’s not cool to hate on something that’s not yours to begin with. Which is why I’m hesitant to publicly comment about this home in Paddington, known as The Governess.
Here’s what the listing says about it:
An iconic Brisbane home, sharing the same vantage point as Government House, has re-entered the market with the most inspirational DA-approved redesign by the award-winning team at GRAYA. This quintessential 1860s Queenslander presents in grand original glory, on a sprawling 1634sqm north-facing parcel of coveted land with sweeping views across Brisbane’s CBD.
So this home has been around for 160 years (built 1864) and, as you’ll see from the exterior shots below, it’s beautiful.
The Governness was most recently owned by Australian NBA star Aron Baynes who purchased the home (with his wife, Rachel) for $4.5m in 2021. According the internet (ha), Aron Baynes has a net worth of US$23m.
A Couriermail article in February 2022 spoke about the plans for the renovation, saying:
The challenge will be keeping its historic features while creating a modern home to fit the development vision of the 2.08m 35-year-old.
Looks like GRAYA was responsible for the designs.
Instagram reactions came thick and fast as plans for the historic site were revealed, after the couple engaged award-winning Brisbane builders Graya to construct their vision for them. Graya has also designed the project, with the site acquired by Jordan Navybox and Cohen Handler Qld, according to latest posts.
Graya’s Instagram feed blew up over the news that the company was “reimagining and redefining this iconic Paddington residence”.
“Our focus will be on preserving and retaining the irreplaceable Queenslander facade and adding a sophisticated addition that will transform this into a truly unique and one of a kind residence,” it said.
“The majestic Governess Paddington will sit atop an expansive 1634m2 north-facing block and enjoy sweeping views of Brisbane City, once complete.”
Here’s a soundbite:
The home was expected to emerge as “the traditional Queenslander reimagined”.
From the bygraya instagram page:
We were engaged by NBA player Aron Baynes and his wife Rachel to design and deliver their dream home with their impending return from the United States following Aron’s highly successful career. They wanted a one-of-a-kind home that boasted exquisite character features but also offered the opportunity to be reimagined and brought back to life for unencumbered family living – a place they could enjoy for many years to come. Working collaboratively with Aron and Rachel, our brief was to retain the existing character charm (an essential attribute of the home) and bring it back to its former glory with subtle and tasteful modern extensions that complimented the residence. Our unique design demonstrated that traditional character features and modern extensions could go hand-in-hand and create something iconic.
I don’t think that they had the correct definition for ‘subtle’
This entry is stunning. The worn double door, the pressed tin ceilings, the archway and those floorboards.
The current view from the top of the stairs. It’s breathtaking.
The controversial renovation
Okay, so there are photographs of the proposed renovation which has DA approval.
There’s also a video where the old is replaced by the new, to show you what it would look like if the renovations are undertaken. This, for me, is even more confronting than the still photographs. I’ll be honest here, I don’t like the proposed renovation at all. I do understand it though. I understand that it’s a high-priced, exclusive suburb and the new section of the house would fit in with the new builds in the area. But, again for me, it doesn’t fit in with the actual house that they are renovating. It feels like the home has lost its soul. That the character and charm of this 160 year old home has been replaced by an edgy, modern, the-same-as-all-the-others look.
I’m not saying this to draw haters, please don’t come at me. I’m only saying how I feel about the joining of the old and the new in this home. As a completely new home, the proposed renovation is beautiful (if that is your style) and it wouldn’t be out of place in a new build.
Anyway, here are the old vs new screenshots from the video. I’ll let you make up your mind and I’d love to hear from you (respectfully) if you think that the design is wonderful. It’s good to challenge your own beliefs and I’d love to hear what you have to say.
A slide on the old hallway vs new hallway. Use the slider to compare.
A slider on the old exterior vs new exterior. Use the slider to compare.
A slider on the old stairs vs the new stairs. Use the slider to compare. This one hurts.
A slider on the old kitchen vs the new kitchen. Use the slider to compare.
So what are your thoughts? Am I completely in the wrong and need to be strung up? Or is some of what I’m saying making sense to you too?
Now for the rest of the photos. Here are some verandah photos.
I absolutely love this space. The fretwork, the ceiling, those floorboards and those french doors. So much character.
I love the louvered windows and the ‘in-the-tree-tops’ feel.
This bathroom would certainly be ‘removed’ in the renovation. But it is a lesson in gorgeous simplicity.
The floor plan
This house (The Governess) is not for sale. It was last sold in October 2022 by Matt Lancashire of Ray White New Farm. It is a 7 bedroom, 4 bathroom house on 1634sqm. The listing is here.
One of my most favourite Paddington renovations is here. This home was renovated in a way that kept the traditional look and feel alive.
Thanks for the article. I think the issue with the house, despite the fact that it represents a Federation style Queenslander, is that its 150+ years old inside. The floor boards are dangerous, the conglomeration of add-ons over the years have bastardised the inside and out. None of the new additions reinforce or help the current house. Most of the house is very very old and decrepit. Unsafe in many areas. Will the new renovation help? Absolutely! Its a partially heritage listed house, the addon enhances modern living and makes the whole house liveable.
Thanks Simon – that’s a good point re the age of the home and the add-ons that have occurred over the years, which is certainly evident when you view the house from the rear. I love that someone is willing to spend a lot of money to keep this home alive for another 150 years. That’s something special.