A Timber Transformation – Armadale House by Natalie Lawrence Design
Words by Anthony Richardson
A rather drab, tired, rendered 1980s home in Armadale was given a transformation both inside and out. Sandra and Paul, the clients, wanted to downsize and came across this home and knew they needed it! “We had bought the house, having decided to down size from our large family home. We kind of just snapped it up as it was exactly what we were looking for,” they explain “Single storey, down a quiet street in an area we love, with scope to change and alter as we saw fit.”
However, living in the home whilst the renovations were going on proved to be difficult. “We didn’t realise how difficult it would be to live through renovations, especially since the only access to the courtyard space was through the front door. However the result is 100% worth it.” Sandra shared a particular story about this difficulty, where there was a guest during Paul’s morning ritual. “One time Paul was in the shower and one of the guys had let themselves in. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed!”
For Natalie Lawrence Design, the challenge was transforming the home into something beautiful and low maintenance while trying to implement everything into the small space. However, the challenges for Natalie didn’t stop at design, it extended to almost ‘client management’. “Also managing their expectations around the build, while they were still living in the house.” was a challenge.
Internally the space was full of dark spaces, limited to fresh air. Although it was tiresome, Natalie Lawrence Design and her clients saw the endless potential. Without altering the fabric of the building, the layout was reconfigured to allow more flexibility, while at the same time allowing light to just pour in. A rather far cry from what was its initial state.
The kitchen, living and dining areas were enlarged through the redeveloped floor plan, along with adding an ensuite to the second bedroom. A new laundry and walk-in-pantry were relocated behind the kitchen, and more storage space was added throughout. Wanting to take full advantage of the existing north-facing courtyard, large glass doors were added. Skylights also help to bring in more light, creating a luminous space.
A result of all of this is a rather contemporary space with sleek lines which evoke a sense of calm. The natural and innovative material palette provides cohesion, with porcelain, stone, timber, concrete and glass used throughout. The floorboards in particular create a talking point, using recycled Chinese Elm boards. Natalie sums it up quite well, “While subsequent joinery boxes and other bespoke details reveal themselves at every glance, there is no hierarchy between art, architecture and furniture. Here you don’t feel overrun with bold elements which ordinarily distract from the overall aesthetic and experience.”
What is it like to live in this home? Sandra, the client, explains, “As the facade is starting to change, we just love coming home up the long driveway and seeing our timber box at the end. It takes our breath away every time.” Being able to evoke this feeling isn’t a one-way street, and Natalie doesn’t take the credit. “When you truly get on well with your clients, it's an invaluable connection and allows everything to flow a lot easier. This was the case with this project.”
Knowing how much joy the clients receive from her design is extremely rewarding for Natalie. “Knowing that my clients receive joy every day as they approach their timber oasis and often entertain in the courtyard in the warmer evenings, also makes my heart sing.”