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Project Type - Architecture + Interior Design 

Location - Balmoral Beach, Sydney

Photos - Simon Whitbread

As an architect and designer, nothing is more satisfying than turning something flawed into something beautiful. I purchased Balmoral Beach House to make it my family home. A tiny 1930s dilapidated bungalow on an elevated site steps from Balmoral beach, to many, its only appeal lay in demolition and rebuild. I, however, saw it as a canvas for preservation. 


Preserving the Past, Designing the Future


With a deep respect for its history and origins, I designed a new home using elements of the bungalow as the foundation. Demolishing the front half and preserving the back rooms became the key to unlocking the property's potential, flooding the interiors with natural light, and providing space for a new studio and a first-floor addition above the original brick structure.


Transforming the Landscape


Overcoming the visual exposure of the elevated site required a thoughtful landscape intervention. I added a winding stair and pathway up to the property through a rehabilitated landscape of native trees, shrubs, and grasses. 


The steep approach angle became an opportunity to craft a visually captivating facade, playing with under-surfaces, shadows, and recesses. Using a warm palette of native Spotted Gum timber juxtaposed with charred black Ironbark cladding, I anchored the house to its surroundings, creating a harmonious connection with the native red Angophora trees. Sliding timber screens add privacy at night, casting a beautiful lantern-like glow.


Original Balmoral Interiors Create New Stories


For the home’s interior, original fittings and fixtures found a second life. Stained-glass windows were restored and repurposed, the original front door reinstalled, and even a basin re-enamelled and put back into the original bathroom. 


For the layout and interiors, I echoed how we live. As a family of artists and musicians, the design revolved around the placement of our piano, the heart of our socialising and entertaining. An overflow internal deck and wraparound bunkette seating cater to larger gatherings, completing a home that matches our life's rhythm. 


A Suburban Home Reimagined


In its final form, Balmoral Beach House is a testament to transforming a challenging site into a visual delight. Every detail reflects a conscious effort to preserve and enhance its spaces. Living in the original house allowed me to find a solution that respects its past while embracing its future. It is now not just a house but a narrative layered with texture and time that harmoniously whispers tales of the beach, the nature reserve, and its past. 

Alexandra Mowday
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