Sydney House: The blog

10 comments
General

Welcome to Sydney House, a blog devoted to Modernist Architecture and Design through the prism of our own 1964-ish built Pettit + Sevitt home in Sydney, Australia. A few years ago we were lucky enough to find a house which we found inspiring in its simplicity, but which also presents a challenge in a contemporary suburban context. We’ve also been informed by overseas travel and international ideas, many of which are reflected in modern architectural forms. Sometimes the ideas, thoughts and questions are swirling around in our heads, so writing it all down is what this space is all about.

We hope you’ll come along on this adventure, gain an insight to this style of architecture or share your thoughts about materials, floor plan or renovation conundrums! This is where it all begins…

One of the most difficult things to do in Sydney is sharing insights with fellow Pettit + Sevitt owners. Many original P+S homes have had unsympathetic additions or simply been bulldozed by property buyers unaware of their design significance. With wonderful modernist homes disappearing fast, it’s also difficult to learn about striking the balance between renovation and conservation.

If you’re the lucky owner of a P+S home or any modernist creation or just an admirer – leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Lowline brochure

UPDATE

Stay on top of the planning progress:

Then skip to The Build Section for building progress

Or get see a quick overview through our Progress Photos section

Here’s a gallery of how the original looked when we bought it.

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10 thoughts on “Sydney House: The blog”

  1. Pingback: The importance of windows | Sydney House.

  2. Talulah says:

    Great site- thank you. It’s uncanny how much our experience with our 64 designed, 74 built P&S Lowline mirrors yours. We are currently weighing up the pros and cons of building up to accommodate our family of 5. Similarly we keep hovering around our desire to keep our Lowline a Lowline whilst ensuring we have enough space for the day when we have 3 teenagers and a creative studio space for us all to use. How is your progress? Would love to see images and hear about the reality of two story Lowline living.

    • sydneyhouse says:

      Thanks Talulah! I’m about to update with a bunch of posts…so behind because – yes, we have been building! More to come – see my March, April, June 2016 posts for latest photos. To answer your question about 2-storey Lowlines, we are actually extending out and then going up above the new section/s only. One reason for this is that going directly on top of the existing Lowline is unlikely to work: it will probably require the removal of your beautiful Oregon beams for steel supports, as Kirsty alluded to below, using the existing roof structure may be a disaster in term of structure and leaks. My other posts in 2015 explain our design solution for this: by leaving the Lowline original house a single storey, we are actually building around the existing house (by extending) and can live in it through the build. And we are going up on the new sections only, there by not compromising the old style or structure or ripping off the old roof for no reason….see our dilemma described here:
      https://sydney-house.com/2015/05/28/lowline-extension/
      and the solution here:
      https://sydney-house.com/2015/11/04/lowline-extension-progress/

  3. Kirsty says:

    Like your ideas for the extension to the house! My parents bought the exact same house close by but a mirror image of yours. It has the clinker brick not the rendered brick though. It was too small for our family and the block too small to go out so they went up. Big mistake!! Something they also recognized too late… Kitchen and bathrooms were renovated about 30 years ago but other than this is in original condition with the existing cork floor in most of the house treated only with a wax finish not the polyurethane crap you find on cork these days and has lasted 50 years! And seriously I can only remember the floor being repolished once in all that time. Good luck with the renos – it’s a great house!! 👏

  4. Ben says:

    We live in an early Sixties architect-designed Moderist home. We plan to renovate the kitchen space in a thoroughly modern way whilst tipping the hat to the era of the house that surrounds it. I’m curious as to the progress of your P+S renovation.

    • sydneyhouse says:

      Hi Ben, thanks for your post. We are in the planning stages and getting closer to a DA application. One of the delicate issues we’ve had to consider is the cost, of course. Our P+S house is small, so the extension is what we’ve been focused on and we’re trying to balance the old versus the new. We’ve decided to make the new area quite separate to the old, so that we don’t disrupt the floor plan or inherent economy of the original house. This also means we’ve left the kitchen in its original spot. Fortunately, the first owner of the home did an update to the kitchen which is ‘not bad’. By that I mean it fits within the same footprint and functions quite well – it’s a galley style with a long running bench, sink, stove area and the opposite wall has a decent sized pantry, storage, fridge, oven area etc for a small home. But it doesn’t really tip its hat stylistically to the modernist time period, as the previous owner chose thoroughly 90s materials: off white cabinets, stainless steel handles and Caesarstone bench. It’s not at all offensive and makes the kitchen easy to use, but we will probably smarten up the look of the cabinets/bench top in the fullness of time. For us, it will probably mean retaining the cork floors which are in good condition, and perhaps going for white handle-less doors (we need all the space we can get in the galley!) and perhaps a bright splashback or use of marble. Our Oregon beams would also remain in their natural state. For my two cents, I think it’s quite hard to keep 60s cabinetry or styles in the kitchen. I love visiting the Rose Seidler house and the kitchen there is frozen in time, but it’s a museum and I know I’d find it hard to cook in there! Have you thought about retaining a particular splash or hint of colour as a way of tipping your hat to the original period?

  5. Sean says:

    Great blog so far… I look forward to following it.

    I can relate very well to your current conundrum as I too live in a Pettit & Sevitt home. It is a 3136 design, built in 1970. I purchased the house almost 10 years ago from the original owner. The house had some additions very early in it’s life but fortunately they were in keeping with the original architectural style and to the untrained eye are not recognised as additions. For the most part the house was very original and in great condition for its age. It was for this reason that I was very reluctant to change any of the original fittings and finishes of the house. Despite this intention, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a 40+ year old home and keep it liveable for a growing family. It is for this reason which I recently decided to renovate. My approach however has been to conserve the existing structure where possible and create new spaces (or renovate old) in a style that respects the original architecture, style and finishes. My philosophy has been to renovate in a style which I believe the original architects and builders would have employed using current day materials, fittings and finishes.

    The bones of the house I have kept mainly intact and new works reuse or match important existing building elements, such as the flat roof forms, clinker bricks and western red cedar trims. I hope to have my current renovations finished in the a few months time, but am already wondering if I should then continue with other works, such as overhauling the original bathroom or converting the carport into a garage. Hmm…

    • Hi Sean, I’m so sorry I have been absent. I plan to update my blog more regularly, the process has begun. Thanks for your comment – I am so glad to find another P&S owner…how rare! I think our philosophy is similar to yours and I hope to share some of the experience we are having with the design and ideas process, and soon …the renovation process.

      I would love to see photos and hear about what you decided to do with original features such as the beams, window styles and any space issues you had.

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