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Daily Telegraph

"Let there be light"

Daily telegraph

7 Sep 2013 | Home

Clever design and attention to detail brightens a tired terrace, writes Chelsea Clark


Inner-­city terraces aren’t known for copious amounts of light and space. So when architect Jodie Niven Choi decided to renovate her Darlinghurst home, the first priority was opening up the space to create room for her growing family. 

Her first point of call was brother Craig who, as a builder, took on the ambitious project to turn a tired­ looking, cramped terrace on a sloping site in a Heritage Conservation Area in into a modern, open and spacious family home. 


“The building had really been stripped of much of its original character and suffered from its poor east­ west orientation,” explains Craig. “So it was really important that we not only restored some of the heritage features, but we also got some natural light into the home by completely opening up the rear.”

Following Jodie’s impressive design plans, the existing terrace was stripped back to the original two­ storey, four-­room brickwork shell, to be reinstated as a three­-storey, four-bedroom, three­-and­-a­-half bathroom home.


Light and bright

Traditionally, terraces are long and narrow, but to create extra space both inside and out, Jodie’s design called for a shorter, but wider, building footprint.

“As a result, we gained a courtyard space which flows on from the kitchen and casual living area at the rear via full­-height, wall­-to-wall glass bi-­fold doors,” says Craig.

Glass was used extensively in the house— a glass roof to part of the downstairs living area and highlight windows in the first­ floor bedroom and bathroom capture the northern light creating a much brighter environment.

“Like most terrace owners, I wanted to make sure we got every last bit of light possible,” says Jodie. “Combined with the skylights over the stairs, we managed to significantly brighten what was previously a very dark space.”


Multi­-use spaces
One of Jodie’s other concerns was that the home provide flexibility for her growing family.
As such, her design incorporated multi­use spaces including a first­floor bedroom, bathroom and living

space that can be transformed instantly with the use of concealed sliding wall panels.
Jodie says throughout the design process, she realised this was the home her children would grow up

in, so it was important the spaces worked for them throughout their childhood and teenage years.
“The sliding panels in the rear first ­floor bedroom and main bathroom mean the space can be used as

a main bedroom and ensuite, bedroom and separate main bathroom, or even open living area, office, or playroom.”

The home’s original parking area provided the other main multi­-function space.

“We removed the roof from the original garage and added timber bi­-fold doors to create a raised parking area which performs double duty as an outdoor entertaining space,” says Craig.

Atmospheric LED lighting, integrated speakers wirelessly connected to the home’s audio system and custom outdoor curtains that can be pulled across to conceal the garage door were all added so when used as an entertaining space, the area feels more like part of the home rather than an unused carport.


Heritage features

Despite all the modern luxuries inside, the exterior of the terrace has been reinstated to reflect its original design.

“To be honest, when we bought the house lots of the original features had really been let go,” says Jodie. “One of my personal hates is when all of the detail gets stripped out of terrace houses so it was vital to me that we paid attention to the heritage of the home.” 

The original tessellated floor tiles and slate steps to the front entry of the home were restored while inside three fireplaces were returned to their original charm.