Two years ago I sat with a blank sheet of paper, my favourite pencil, my clients dream, their trust, and my imagination. Now here I am visiting the home I’ve just finished creating for them. This is such an incredibly special moment. Months of daydreaming, designing, re-designing, working out how to build it, are behind me. I’m now standing in the space I spent so long imagining… This is what it is all about for me.
I only take on a few projects a year, so seeing one finished doesn’t happen often. I’ve chosen to remain a sole practitioner as the quality of my work is more important to me than the size of my practice. It means I can work directly with my clients, and see my ideas right through to their fruition. I feel it is the only way I can produce designs that are both true to my values and true to their needs.
Arriving at the Oswald street California bungalow renovation, I’m a mixture of nerves and excitement. Waiting at the front door to be let in felt like an age. Once inside I didn’t say much, I was totally consumed, trying to take it all in. The varying elements and design features which I had worked on for so long in my sketch book and on my computer screen, are now in front of me. Everything looks even better than I had hoped. I was close to tears, yet my smile stretched from ear to ear. I thought to myself – I love this place. I wish it were mine. I created this?! It seemed hard to believe.
The video I made on this project is one of the most popular posts I’ve done, I get so many enquiries from people looking to renovate an old home. As I’ve mentioned before, working with old/ heritage homes are my favourite projects – this is recycling on the grandest of scales. Breathing new life into these tired old homes, ensures they will be around for another 100 years, showing future generations how we once lived. That means so much to me! I’m not just the designer of the additions, but also the protector and restorer of these pieces of our history. I make the minimum of changes to the original houses in these projects to ensure their beautiful features remain. The additions I add to the back can never be seen from the street, as I do not want to take away or compete with the beauty and grandeur of the old home. Yet the additions to the rear are cutting edge – reflective of the design style and materials of today, so there is no confusion in another 100 years as to what was original and what was not.
I have to thank my clients for helping this project turn out as well as it did. They fully trusted me, which is the hope of all architects; allowing me to explore my creativity whilst realising a home that meets their needs. To hear how happy they are, and that “they would not change a thing” is the measure of success for me.
It’s hard to walk away after two years. I form such a strong attachment to all my projects, as I put so much thought into them, they feel like a part of me. However, while the design process is now over, and I must walk away, the life of this house has just begun. It is such an honour to give form to my clients dream. My hope is that it will be called home for many generations to come.