Easy Grace – Neal and Shirley’s by DFJ Architects
Tweed Coast, NSW, Australia

Styling Aneka Sidoti
Architecture DFJ Architects
Words Sarah Sivaraman
Landscape Brent Mathews Landscaping

Neal and Shirley’s by DFJ Architects preserves the charm and mid-century bones of a 1957 Tweed Coast residence, whilst refreshing its capacity as a 21st century home.

Purchased as a holiday home by the current owners during the 1980s, some 20 years later the property became their full-time residence. DFJ Architects was briefed to revive the building in order to comfortably house the now retired occupants, as well as their visiting children and grandchildren. The brief also called for a new painting workshop and improved accessibility on the property, holding the residents in good stead for years to come.

Liberated from the confines of an enclosed fernery that ran along the front of the house, the chimney now takes pride of place both internally and externally.

Drawn in by the scale, materiality and iconic essence of the residence, DFJ Architects navigated slumped floor structures, brittle asbestos cladding and significant corrosion due to salt spray to realise the renovation. Once dark and pokey rooms have become light and airy spaces by way of new openings and an internal linear breezeway. The transition between indoor and outdoor areas is smooth, one feeling like a logical continuation of the other. The humble simplicity of the home leaves room for everyday comforts, ocean views, and the quiet yet iconic style to come to the fore. A self-sufficient guest wing was added, extending from the original dwelling and comprising of three bedrooms and one bathroom. Below, built into the sloping site and accessible at both street level and via lift, sits a workshop and garage.

The expansive stone chimney and fireplace have been brilliantly restored. Liberated from the confines of an enclosed fernery that ran along the front of the house, the chimney now takes pride of place both internally and externally. The western terrace, originally the fernery, is now defined by a steel screen which errs towards retro while blending casually with the contemporary timber battens that offer shade overhead. It is details like these – the chalky white lines of the screen, the chimney, with its pebbled texture and its warm browns and greys – that are representative of nostalgic, costal Australian architecture without being kitsch. Similarly, white panelled interior walls and the easy-going slope of the exposed internal rafters offer context without overdoing the reference.

Creating space and light in a home that had little of either whilst preserving, enhancing even, the original and iconic character of a home is no mean feat. It is an achievement corroborated by the occupants, who describe it as “a home that blends the old and the new in the most magical way. It is a house of easy grace, made of beautiful materials which echo the place and the house’s history.”

Published 19 October, 2021
Photography  Christopher Frederick Jones
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