BNE FRIENDS: TRIANGLE TERRRACE by megan norgate

alice grant triangle terrace

The owner of this deliciously quirky triangle terrace lived and worked for 20 years between New Zealand, London and Australia before moving back to Australia to create a home for herself. The house would leave most people scratching their heads as to how to make it work. Wrapped around a central courtyard it is built to the boundary on three sides between another terrace, the street and a bluestone laneway angled at 45 degrees away from the street. The resulting building is full of unusually shaped spaces with two tiny triangle rooms at opposing apexes. Rooms follow on from one another, the bathroom, laundry and spare room are through the master bedroom.
Alice enlisted the skills of Nicola at Drawing Room Architecture to resolve the functionality of the spaces and design the new bathrooms and laundry, cosmetic renovation and a courtyard fit-out. She applied her project management skills as a TVC producer with gusto - managing the renovation in a harrowing timeline with a baby on the way.
The modest but transformative renovation ensured every space was carefully considered to centre around the courtyard garden and for life with a young son. The previously dark and masculine spaces were softened with new tiles and paint colours.  Last year, Megan of Brave New Eco had the pleasure of styling the home for a shoot with Australian born, UK based photographer Penny Wincer.

alice grant triangle terrace

The triangle kitchen is our favourite part of this house. Surprisingly functional for such an awkward shape, the timber cabinetry is the original 1970's fit out. 
New tiles and openable windows were added for cross-flow ventilation. A collection of Alice's iconic NZ Crown Lyn pottery lines the shelf above the window and Alice's collection of teapots get a good workout in this lovely space. 

alice grant triangle terrace
Designed by Nicola from Drawing Room Architecture, The west facing outdoor courtyard features built-in seating and garden beds, a beautiful tall slatted fence and oversized gate and a shady pergola to protect from the hot summer sun. Alice filled the space with a table tiled in vintage Art Deco tiles, a huge range of plants, mirrors and shelves to vertical surfaces. 

Designed by Nicola from Drawing Room Architecture, The west facing outdoor courtyard features built-in seating and garden beds, a beautiful tall slatted fence and oversized gate and a shady pergola to protect from the hot summer sun. Alice filled the space with a table tiled in vintage Art Deco tiles, a huge range of plants, mirrors and shelves to vertical surfaces. 

alice grant triangle terrace
triangle terrace
alice grant triangle terrace

An interior palette of rinsed-out early 20th century tones chosen by Nicola was used, to soften the classic spaces and create a classic backdrop to Alice's eclectic furnishings. Vintage light fittings were installed throughout and Alice has furnished the home lovingly with her collection of vintage English and New Zealand objects and furniture. Brave New Eco made some lovely linen curtains trimmed with a vintage Japanese obi.
Alice is an intuitive and disciplined collector, and the home is filled with delightful vintage pieces from her native New Zealand, and Australia and England. She takes a considered approach and really adheres to the William Morris idea that we should only have things in our homes that we find to be useful or consider to be beautiful. The result is a unique and cohesive space, full of humble charm and interest. 

alice grant triangle terrace
A teeny-tiny bathroom/ laundry and toilet were reconfigured by Nicola, making them functional despite the spatial challenges, graphic detail in the vanity and tiles adding interest. Trims and mouldings were painted white to contrast with the timber floors and provide cohesion. 

A teeny-tiny bathroom/ laundry and toilet were reconfigured by Nicola, making them functional despite the spatial challenges, graphic detail in the vanity and tiles adding interest. Trims and mouldings were painted white to contrast with the timber floors and provide cohesion. 

 

 

 

 

BNE FRIENDS- KINGS CROSS RAMBLER by megan norgate

brave new eco styling

Here at Brave New Eco we have a particular affection for old houses in need of some love. There is something about the act of custodianship of an old building, especially one that is under-appreciated, that we feel compelled by. Only certain people will take on a loving rehabilitation of a lame home knowing it will become a bottomless pit for time and resources - it takes a very optimistic and imaginative personality. I thought we would share the story of one such house, originally styled and written by Megan and photographed by Penny Wincer for UK Homes and Antiques magazine. 

Five years ago, creative Sydney couple Rani Chaleyer and Rupert Glasson were considered crazy by their friends and family for buying ‘Barncleuth’ - an abandoned and derelict Victorian Italianate mansion, located on the edge of Sydney’s notoriously seedy but rapidly gentrifying Kings Cross. The building had fallen into a state of disrepair. Together, on a shoestring budget and in record time, they have restored and transformed the faded beauty to create a unique home - vibrant and robust enough for busy family life.

brave new eco styling
brave new eco
brave new eco styling

When Rani first saw the house on the internet she was intrigued as to how such a substantial property, (a set of two semi-detached three-storey Victorian houses in an inner-urban location), could have been left empty so long. The building had been a backpacker’s known as ‘The Pink House’ – reviewed as "the worst backpackers in the world” for its filth and rodent populations. Eventually shutting down, Barncleuth was left empty and inhabited with a transient population of squatters.

When she arrived to inspect the property the real estate agent initially refused to let her inside with her then 5-year-old daughter. Eventually she convinced him to let them look at just a few rooms. It took only those few rooms for Rani to see the vast potential beneath apparent dereliction. The house had 4-metre high ceilings, opposing windows in each room, filigree balconies and a glorious central staircase between three levels of dramatically proportioned spaces. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they moved quickly to purchase the pair with another family member.

brave new eco styling
brave new eco styling
brave new eco styling
brave new eco styling

With a third child on the way, the demolition and restoration process began immediately - removing partition walls and bathroom stalls left by the backpackers. A tiny kitchen and laundry was opened up to create a large kitchen leading onto a courtyard. What was left of the modest budget was used for the simplest of renovations - polishing floorboards and painting. The transformation was immediate and dramatic, revealing the inherent proportional beauty and period details of the interiors. With new bathrooms and a simple industrial kitchen, some half-hearted patching and repairs, the home was a new modest version of its previous grandeur.

One of the immediate joys for Rani was to be able to provide a worthy setting for the family heirlooms passed down through her mother’s side of the family:
“Luckily I come from a great line of people obsessed with old things. I grew up with very strong memories of my grandparent's and mother's houses being filled with antiques and curiosities. So it was very exciting for me to be in a space that lent itself to that aesthetic. Some of the things I took to the house that I had grown up with were very special."

brave new eco styling

The home has been filled with industrial and antique furnishings bought both online and at various small stores and markets in Sydney, those more likely to carry the rustic, unrestored items Rani prefers. Rani spent many hours scouring Gumtree, where she has picked up oversized 19th and 20th century antiques from sellers without space just wanting them off their hands.

Her eclectic style is unified by an absence of polish. Everything is faded and worn, yet robust beneath patinered surfaces:
“The worst thing to me is something polished. Industrial pieces create a more utilitarian feel and a simplicity that balances some of the more ornate items. I think it comes from my childhood of growing up in eclectic spaces where everything has an imperfection or rawness and that’s the element that unites it all together."

brave new eco styling

Rani’s collections of objects reflect a strong sense of nostalgia, wonder and macabre curiosity. Collections of taxidermy insects, butterflies, shells, bones, old photo’s scientific and educational ephemera grace the cabinets and mantelpieces:
“When I was little, my father would take me to the museum to see the taxidermy exhibitions, I have always had a natural history fascination and have loved the uncanny nature of the world of curiosities, biological specimens and Victorian dioramas."

brave new eco styling

For Rani and Rupert the damaged state they found the home in was one of the qualities that appealed to them - a space that children would not need to be too careful in. The house is an ongoing project and a more substantial kitchen renovation is up next. This ever-changing landscape suits the growing family's lifestyle as a revolving door of local and international visitors use the home as a Sydney base. Large groups of children and adults are regularly entertained, having had created a home with a comfortable balance between utility and beauty.
“We love to fill our house with people, the house is not at all precious or formal, it just absorbs small children and everything in here is robust enough to withstand some boisterous activity”, says Rani.

BOTH Pleasing and Productive- A permaculture garden design approach by Miri Ransom

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

Most of our homes have a bit of outdoor space in which to make a garden. Time spent in a garden can induce a sense of peace and calm or mindfulness. As well as creating beauty, a garden brings a connection with nature, its seasons and rhythms. The understanding of this connection, of working with nature to nurture oneself, is most clearly expressed in a permaculture garden. Miri Ransom works in collaboration with Megan in the Brave new eco team designing landscape solutions and creating detailed planting plans. In this article she outlines our particular approach to urban permaculture design; Firstly to create environments that match the landscapes and inhabitants physical and practical resources, and secondly to create productively useful and ecologically beneficial environments, that are also aesthetically beautiful. You can hear more of Miri's garden musings at her Daily Gardener blog.

WHAT IS PERMACULTURE?

Permaculture is the conscious design of productive, sustainable and resilient ecosystems in which human beings and nature coexist harmoniously. Designing a garden is an opportunity to engage with the key permaculture principles of care of the earth and care of people. A permaculture garden design begins with two questions: how could your custodianship of a garden have a beneficial environmental impact? And in what ways could a garden enhance the quality of your life?

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

OBSERVING:

The initial phase of the permaculture design process is observation. This involves conducting a site survey which takes into account the aspect and topography of the site, its soil makeup, local climate, movement of water through the site, prevailing winds and existing landscape features such as established trees, as well as the borrowed landscape beyond the fence. Drawing on careful observation, the garden design is able to harness the advantages of the site and to mitigate any disadvantages.

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

BEING PRAGMATIC:

While permaculture gardens are designed to be less labour intensive than conventional gardens – because we work with nature rather than against it, the design needs to take into account the human resources available to be drawn on. How much time do you want to devote to your garden? Do you have an ambition to grow some of your own food? Do you want your own orchard and chickens? Or maybe a few herbs and salad greens is more realistic with the time you have available.

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

CREATING SPACES TO INHABIT

A garden extends the living areas of the house into the outdoors, providing tranquil private spaces that are shaded and cool in summer while allowing winter sun in. The placement of trees, shrubs and climbers in the garden can enhance the passive solar capacity of a building design. Deciduous plantings are sited to the north, east and western sides of house while evergreens are situated on the south side of buildings.

composite02.jpg

DESIGNING THE STRUCTURE:

The hard landscaping component of the design should sit lightly on the earth both visually and in terms of its environmental impact. A permaculture design requires a careful consideration of the potential toxicity, embodied energy and durability of any materials used in the construction of the garden. Our preference is for gardens with minimal hard landscaping, using natural and recycled materials, where the planting design is the dominant feature of the landscape.

brave new eco sustainable landscape design
brave new eco sustainable landscape design

ENSURING A WATER SUPPLY:

It is important that the landscape design employs strategies to capture and use water effectively. Water tanks and efficient drip-line irrigation systems divert catchment rainwater away from stormwater drains and cycle it back into the garden. 

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

BUILDING UP SOIL:

Another key consideration in a permaculture garden design is the building of nutrients and organic matter in soil. The soil’s water holding capacity is improved by increasing its humus content (the dark organic matter in the soil formed from the decay of plant material), which also enables carbon to be sequestered in the soil. Because digging in the garden releases carbon from the soil, we aim for minimal soil disturbance, instead using deep forking to gently loosen the soil and spreading manures and composts over the soil surface. Mulching is crucial to minimise evaporation and protect the beneficial soil microbes.  

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

NUTRIENT CYCLES

A permaculture garden design also needs to facilitate nutrient cycling. Rather than exporting garden waste products off site through green waste and rubbish collection, we use worm farms, composting systems and chickens to convert the waste into food for the garden. Ultimately the garden becomes a ‘closed’ system, feeding itself without the need for toxic and expensive external inputs such as fertilisers purchased at the garden centre.

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

GIFTS FROM THE GARDEN:

In a permaculture garden design, much of the available growing space is reserved for productive or edible plants. In a relatively small amount of time a productive permaculture garden yields enough home grown fruit, herbs and vegetables to share with friends and neighbours. Productive plantings will be a mixture of perennial plants such as fruiting trees, and annual cropping vegetables. The planting design includes companion or guild planting to attract beneficial insects to the garden and deter pests, minimise weed invasion and contribute nutrients to the soil.

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

A THING OF BEAUTY:

A well-designed garden is beautiful as well as sustainable. Non-productive areas of the garden are designed as habitat rich perennial and self-seeding annual plantings. This naturalistic planting design is beautiful as well as wildlife friendly, providing cover, water and food for birds, reptiles and insects. Consideration is given in the design to the ecological compatibility of plant species as communities, as well as their site suitability in terms of climate, rainfall, light levels and soil type. For a design to work, the right plant needs to be put in the right place.

brave new eco sustainable landscape design

ENSURING TOLERANCE:

In many cases a naturalistic planting design will make use of native and indigenous plants. However there is a huge range of climate appropriate exotic plants that can provide habitat and food for wildlife. When exotic perennial plants are integrated with native plants we are able to extend both the season of interest in a garden and its aesthetic possibilities. Plants are selected for their form, texture or colour, or sometimes the way they catch the light, and are combined to create beautiful and atmospheric planting schemes.

brave new eco sustainable interior design

northcote rambler by megan norgate

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

This grand old dame is an original Victorian mansion farm house that, once upon a time, sat on ten acres of Northcote farmland stretching down the hill to the Merri creek. Now she resides on a built up Northcote street and is the beautiful quirky home of a creative family - full of nooks and crannies, stairwells, attics, light-wells, alcoves and beautiful art and objects.  

The clients engaged Brave New Eco to help them create a Kitchen-to-Garden design, including a productive permaculture garden, as they wanted to feel more connected to their outdoors spaces. The Victorian design faced inwards on itself and lacked connection to the outdoors. Landscaping is underway and in the meantime the kitchen refurbishment has been completed. 

The country-style kitchen with a beautiful original cream AGA stove and big central table was charming and is the centre of the family life. Unfortunately the tired early 80's 'country style' kitchen had become totally dysfunctional for a family whose kitchen activities include sprouting, baking, socialising and working.
The family wanted "...to keep the essence of our country style kitchen but bring the look and functionality into the 21st century, to declutter and use space better, and to create more pantry space." They were keen not to just rip it all out and start again, but wanted to retain the overall atmosphere and make it functional for the task of family life for another 30 years. The home is full of diverse influences and the family's love of Japanese ceramics and objects was used as in influence to create a unique kitchen design - warm, inviting and full of deep earthy tones all with splashes of bright colour. 

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

The kitchen cabinetry was falling apart in places, cluttered and non- intuitive. A lack of pantry space meant food items were stacking up on every shelf and surface plus the old oven and range-hood were not keeping up with this family's' cooking habits.
However the existing cabinets and open shelving were good quality - made from Australian hardwood. So rather than throwing them away completely we decided to rejuvenate the shelving and cabinets. We removed and repainted the lower cabinets with a hand brushed Porters paint, allowing the texture of the woodgrain to show through. We removed fussy cornicing details and added Japanese-style slatted timber doors to create more pantry storage out of sight to the timber box shelving. We kept the old AGA as the centrepiece of the kitchen and added a new in-built steel steam oven and Smeg cooktop.  A new rangehood was concealed in a cabinet and new hardwood shelves run the length of the bench. We re-made the water-damaged cabinetry around the sink - adding waste-sorting systems, a recessed compost bin and integrating the dishwasher. A new pantry was added housing a bright grass green interior and handmade timber door-mounted shelves.  

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

An antique Japanese tea chest was found in which to keep stationary and all those bits and bobs. We upgraded all the lighting adding LED spot and strip lights and chose hand-glazed tiles, beautiful utilitarian aged brass tapware, and a big ceramic butlers sink. The result is a truly beautiful kitchen, that is integrated well in the style of the older building, but filled with the owners personalities and interests.  We have retained everything that was wonderful about the original kitchen, solved elements that were not working and added some more stories to the long narrative of the beautiful home. 

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

"We chose to work with Megan because of (her) aesthetic and principles around sustainability and resourcefulness. We wanted to keep the bones of our kitchen & use what we had but refresh and update the space. Megan was committed to using most things that still had life in them and did not pressure us to buy all new things. I like Megan's style of communication, she has a genuine interest in how we want to live, she listens and is persistent about finding solutions or products that suit the client" Ali - owner.

 

 

peacock st project by megan norgate

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

This gorgeous home was completed at the end of 2015 and we have finally found the time to take some pictures.
The lovely young family who live here wanted to upgrade the efficiency of their Californian bungalow and create better spaces for family life. Central to our design approach is a philosophy that believes a home should be an authentic expression of it's inhabitants' values. We were guided by the clients' tastes and preference for classic early to mid 20th century style and design. The clients were trusting in our interpretation of this and a rich palette of burnt oranges, deep teal blues and soft greens was used.
The original house was poky, dark, lacked any visual connection to the garden and as avid gardeners, the clients were keen to open the home to the productive vegie gardens and northern sunlight.  The home had many wonderful, pre-existing art deco-style features however previous renovations had added poorly configured small rooms onto the back; resulting in a house that lacked natural light, felt closed in, and cost a fortune to heat in the winter. We sought to remove the sense of being enclosed by opening the whole house up internally through the centre. This was achieved by turning a small dark bedroom into a centralised study/play area that leads on to a new kitchen and dining. In collaboration with Geometrica building design we revised the layout and added a tiny 32m2 extension into which a new kitchen, walk-in pantry, bathroom, laundry and dining-room went. This area was opened up to a large outdoor deck and pergola to the north and made to feel wider and more expansive than it really was with a high pitched ceiling and a deep window seat running along the north side of the room.

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design
peacock-composite11.jpg

We softened potential bottle necks in the kitchen by using a curved floating bench clad in recycled hardwood. The kitchen joinery was custom made out of recycled messmate timbers, EO laminate and oiled in natural oils. In contrast to the labyrinth of rooms one previously had to walk through to get outside, we sought to place the outdoor spaces as the focus, so that the building and the garden are mutually beneficial to one another. Taking a holistic view of the living envrionment, landscaping was resolved concurrently with the building design and interiors, and we used the renovation as an opportunity to resolve garden storage and neighbouring over-looking issues. In an Brave new eco home- any established tree is considered an asset and we configured the interior layout so that the huge mature gum tree deep in the back yard is visible as soon as the front door is opened. The kitchen is visible from nearly everywhere in the house so we hid the work spaces behind an island bench return. A cold-store walk in pantry large enough for a workbench and the fridge to go in was designed and in order to keep this room cool, a long ventilation pipe was run through the length of the slab and opened to the cool under-house air (air drawn in is cooled by the slab). A sliding door shuts this area off from the rest of the kitchen when it is not in use and keeps the busy mess out of sight. We refurbished vintage copper pendant lights for the kitchen and handmade Manuka honey-coloured tiles add a touch of warmth.

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

A new living room was created and a gas space heater installed to zone the heating into the highly insulated extension. Recycled deco double doors were used in the lounge room so it could be closed off when watching TV and a new sliding door with beautiful fluted glass was used to separate the extension from the original house (that includes the bedrooms and primary bathroom.)

brave new eco sustainable interior design

The main original house was separated from the extension for the purpose of space heating. The main bathroom was also renovated, made larger by extending into the hall space. We recycled the existing bathtub and chose a soft pewter finish for the tap-ware to avoid the use of chrome. Hand made fish-scale tiles were chosen for over the bath and an art deco drinks trolley was repurposed as a bathroom vanity. 

brave new eco sustainable interior design

As often happens on our larger renovations we establish a long standing relationship with the client and are therefore still adding furnishings to this project over time and as they are ready. We have recovered vintage chairs and had linen curtains, lamps and cushions made with custom printed fabrics from Ink and Spindle. Driven by the concept of finding items that the clients connect to on a personal level - we have sourced a second-hand Jardan couch, a vintage blackbean sideboard and artwork from various Australian artists. It gives us such pleasure to see our clients feel a sense of belonging in; being expressed by; and feeling connected to the story of creating their home. 

brunswick east- colour pop! by megan norgate

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

This was a fun project for a creative family - taking an already renovated home and adding the finishing touches whilst resolving a few things that weren't working. We created a new section of kitchen floor-to-ceiling cabinets - replacing previous cabinets that were too deep to be functional and very heavy in the space, and integrating it into the existing fit out (we found a new home for the original ones too).  A beautiful nectre wood-burner was installed for the living room so that the central heating did not need to be used so much.
The house has been completely transformed through a complete lighting re-design. By adding carefully placed wall lights around the extensive art collection and fitting task spot lighting in the kitchen we made the whole house come alive at night and zoned each area's lighting needs. Vintage pendants and a new handmade pendant by Pop and Scott  were placed in each of the three living/dining spaces. Existing pendants were also rearranged.

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

New double glass doors were installed at the end of a dark hallway to open up the space, and the hallway painted a deep mandarin colour for warmth and a little punch of happiness every time you pass down it. We added beautiful new tiles, and rearranged the furniture, restored and recovered couches with durable eco wool fabric and had a recycled timber coffee table made to create a focal point in the room, and had custom rugs made for the hallways and living. This was a very happy project, with plenty of input from parents and kids - lots of playing with tiles, fabric and paint samples over cups of tea, and taking all the potential of an already lovely home and pulling it all together.
Here is what our happy clients said: "Megan's approach was incredibly sensible, thoughtful, creative and tuned in to the everyday bustle of a family home."

brave new eco interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

All photographs by Emma Byrnes.

renovate, retrofit, re-imagine: a permaculture approach to a suburban home renovation by megan norgate

brave new eco sustainable interior design

Recently I have revisited the process I went through when we renovated our own home, in an article written for Australian permaculture magazine Pip - the Design issue. 
Eight years ago we bought a dilapidated 1940’s Californian bungalow in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs. It was in a semi-derelict state and had a heritage overlay, flood level restrictions and a long narrow bloc. However the site was extremely special as it backed onto the Merri creek wildlife corridor. The real value for us was not in the bricks and mortar but in the proximity of the majestic, mature gum trees, running water and the deep buffer of native vegetation on either side of the creek, creating a peaceful sanctuary in an urban environment. We began the process of retrofitting and renovating the home by thinking of it as part of a permaculture system that would integrate the built, interior and biological environments and in turn create an urban existence for our family that allowed us to connect to nature and our local community on a daily basis. There are some key ways of thinking about design from a permaculture perspective based on the ethics and principles as defined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren - and below I have outlined how I applied some of these principles in our process. 

brave new eco sustainable interior design

OBSERVATION: As we designed the renovation it was important to observe the building over a full seasonal year by spending time on the site and noticing the patterns of the elements - sun, water, wind - in order to harness them for use in our home. 

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

CAPTURING ENERGY: All buildings have some potential for passive function that can be realised. In order to make the 1940’s weatherboard home thermally efficient we took the whole building apart piece-by-piece and back to its structural frames. We then wrapped it in insulation and put it all back together again, sealing every little gap as we went. The process has a sense of the loving act of mending the holes in your favourite coat. The extension was built on a suspended concrete slab that allowed us to introduce a thermal mass capacity into the home. We located new windows to open up the home to the winter sun, shade ourselves from the summer heat and to capture cooling breezes. We re-oriented the room layout so that all living areas faced north, flooding the spaces with natural light and allowing the winter sun to reach its long fingers inside. 

brave new eco sustainable interior design

PATTERNS OF USE: By reconfiguring the layout of the existing home and extending it, we resolved the spatial design around patterns of use. This design solution creates healthy and resourceful living so that the home functions with the ‘path of least resistance’. Our common utility areas butt up against the social areas so that no one feels like they are in purgatory while doing washing in the laundry. When it’s raining, we can walk barefoot in the house under a clear roof off the deck to hang washing outside. Living in the new home our daily tasks and rituals are now performed in an ergonomic, logical and enjoyable fashion. The best ‘storage vessel’ for the heat and energy of the sun is the human body. Ideally we can wake up to the sun, eat breakfast with it streaming through the window and then relax at the end of the day while watching it set.

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

RESOURCEFULNESS: During the construction process, we sought to produce the minimum amount of waste possible by first looking at what we had around us, and making the most of existing and discarded materials. Demolished materials such as cabinetry and architectural features were collected and stored for reuse, resold, or collected for further recycling. We repaired or partially replaced what we could - salvaging undamaged weatherboards; collecting the old hardwood skirtings and architraves; and sourcing additional salvaged timbers, doors, and fixtures. We consistently placed value on the marginal - the little details and elements of a design that brought character and resourcefulness to our family home. Every cupboard handle, every window winder, every material junction is where you have the opportunity for the greatest change.

salvaged brass door handles and timber doors were used

salvaged brass door handles and timber doors were used

brave new eco sustainable interior design

TIME: The design process requires great consideration, testing and evolution over time. For every week we spent in design consideration the project continued to improve. This also allowed for a nuanced design solution in direct response to our community relationships and collaborations. Clear and honest communication between the whole team was so important to ensure we shared our vision and considered everyone’s concerns. This slow and evolving approach to design reprioritises the experience and connection between people over the goal of a rushed completion date. Our home has been allowed to beautifully ‘cure’ over time, retaining the potential for future adaptations . By using materials that are only fully realized when their natural patinas show up over time, it is then that our home starts to come alive. In our house, I try to choose special pieces that are worth keeping, appreciating the skill and materiality of highly-crafted objects that ultimately create heirlooms.

Secondhand light fitting and furnishings have been used throughout

Secondhand light fitting and furnishings have been used throughout

BREVITY: I had to curb my enthusiasm for collecting stuff and taking up more space. Our cupboards were intentionally designed not to be too deep in order to avoid things disappearing into the dark zone of being too far away. We created one large central space that opened up to the same amount of outdoor decking. It has become a home where we can welcome our extended community, it can be used as a shared resource and has allowed us to host community groups and events. We also welcome help-exchangers and the neighbourhood children at spontaneous hours of the day. Our bedrooms and utility rooms are modestly sized and shaped for their intended use. Bathrooms and the laundry are long and thin to maximise wall space, access to light and minimise unnecessary circulation space. High loft beds in the kids bedrooms create more floor space for them to play. The hallway was made just wide enough to run a desk along its length and create an office area without dedicating a room to that purpose. The roof space has been lined and fitted out with pull down ladders to store seasonal gear. We also have cupboards that run to the ceilings above normal head height so desks and beds can fit underneath. These design outcomes maximize the use of our precious vertical space.

LIVING ON THE EDGE: Typically, the edges in nature contain the most dense diversity and activity and this includes human inhabited spaces. We paid special attention to articulating the spaces on the edge, from the outside to in, from public to private, from down to up. These transition spaces are where people interact the most with one another, and blurring these boundaries can create opportunities for dynamic relationships and communication. We removed any high fences from the front yard so we could talk to our neighbours and passers-by on the street whilst working in the garden. We created a small door in the back garden fence so that the younger children next door could come and go without needing to be walked along the street. Our delight never ceases when our littlest and most curious neighbours pop up in our garden and kitchen. We created a pergola structure to reach the boundary. It provides both summer shade to the north-facing windows but also houses a vertical recycled hardwood screen, creating some privacy and a vertical surface to grow grapes, berries and honeysuckles. Between the backyard and the creek we took down the tall paling fence and replaced it with a low open wire fence. This allows us to observe the creek beds' native vegetation and wildlife. Another two houses in the area have since followed suit, and now our chickens forage periodically on the creek-side saving us cutting back grasses and weeds and providing them (and us) an abundant source of food.

brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design
brave new eco sustainable interior design

STACKING FUNCTION: We sought to integrate diverse design problems into one solution, maximising the use of the available space. We created play-nooks under the loft and in the fireplace alcoves (these will later become study nooks and book shelves when the kids get older). We use the laundry as an indoor drying room as well as a bulk-goods store. We have located our solar hot water tank inside an otherwise useless space at the top of the stairs so we can dry wet boots, make yogurt and maybe even hatch eggs in the warm cupboard. 

INTEGRATION: I sought out ‘responsive’ materials, finishes and furnishings, by selecting items with a tangible context that relate to the region or have a historical or emotional relationship to us. This enabled me to explore an authentic regional and personal design vernacular. Our home is lovingly filled with hand-me-downs from our family and objects that we have collected, made, salvaged, and found over the years. This means our home does not have a particular look, but is more an accidental collection of personally significant things, gently curated into a pleasing combination of usefulness and decoration.  

brave new eco sustainable interior design

A YEILD:  Our home has produced outcomes far beyond aesthetic and economic results. We have fresh healthy food, happy children, meaningful friendships and connection with our community. There isn’t a person that worked on this house that didn’t speak warmly of their experience, despite having to carry everything in down steep muddy paths. We would sometimes stop work to gently relocate wildlife that kept moving into the building site, such as the little ring-tail possum found asleep in the middle of a cloud of bulky insulation one morning. The peripheral yields have been the learning received from and between everyone involved in the project, the guests we have hosted in our home and through the open days and tours I have run. Our home design has fundamentally changed the way we all live and contribute to the community. We thankfully get to live, work and go to school all within walking distance. We are very privileged to live here and to have access to abundant nature within the cultural amenities of the urban life. We experience diverse wildlife daily; we are visited by kookaburras, blue tongue lizards, tawny-frogmouths and the odd tiger snake.
This home has reiterated the importance of urban wild life corridors and shared productive space. We have an opportunity to re-design our suburbs in a context of neighbourhood scale resilience and autonomy, creating homes and landscapes that contribute to this end.

 

All photographs by Emma Byrnes

clifton hill cabinet party by megan norgate

brave new eco sustainable interiors

Just before Christmas last year, we finished this modest living/dining-room cabinetry fit-out in a Clifton Hill townhouse. The brief was for a cabinet design to fulfil everyone's needs in this creative family - part DJ console; part TV alcove; part book and art object display; part play-nook for the children. We designed this wrap-around unit, complete with a floating turntable platform on sound absorption pads to stop the speaker jumping and it was beautifully made with care in Victorian ash hardwood and veneer by Auld designs. The brick home, designed in the 1980s, had some period style additions that were not true to it's late modernist design so they were stripped back and the simple quality of exposed brick and long garden views maximised. 

brave new eco sustainable interiors

One of the highlights of this project was the new baby girl born into the family on the day their cabinetry was installed! A very productive time for all involved, and we felt very pleased that the family could come home to their new space and settle in for the summer. These types of jobs are why we love residential work at Brave New Eco. The owners are looking forward to hosting some fun parties in this space - just as soon as they get some sleep!

brave new eco sustainable interiors
brave new eco sustainable interiors
brave new eco sustainable interiors

All photographs by Emma Byrnes