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Home Tour: A Modernist Lilyfield Classic

We often hear that a house has good bones, but what is it that takes these bones and turns it into a wonderful home? Join us as we tour JJ House, a beautifully renovated, modernist family home.

Photography by Clinton Weaver

On a quiet unassuming street in bustling but bucolic Lilyfield, on Gadagal and Wangal land, you’ll find JJ House. Blending seamlessly into the streetscape, the sleek, stylish family home, is an  architectural darling which won both the 2020 Australian Institute of Architects Award and the NSW Architecture Awards for alterations and additions to houses.

JJ House is a study of balance and counterbalance, fusing historical and modernist features with conscious restraint that manages to respect boundaries within the home.

In this home tour, we take you through this modernist marvel and share the story of how JJ House came to be.

Photography by Clinton Weaver

Modernist Home Tour: Look and Feel

When engaging Bokey Grant Architects, the brief from owners Joey and Jeff was clear, they wanted to breathe life into a century old structure, add an extra bedroom, reorient the space to hero the garden and to do it all before their baby daughter arrived.

Photography by Clinton Weaver

The house itself was originally built in 1920s as part of the Durrell’s Estate in Lilyfield. A free standing brick workers cottage purchased for just a three pound deposit – an enviable price point that we wish would come back in style! The house had seen many alterations made over the course of its lifetime, though many renovations were poorly conceived and asbestos riddled.

A welcome change of pace, the team behind JJ house, sought to undo a number of questionable improvements and return the house to it’s purest form, respecting the home’s heritage bones and breathing new life into the form of a federation bungalow.

The architects, Bokey Grant, have beautifully negotiated respectful lines between old and new within the home so that the house flows seamlessly. Heritage light fittings, cathedral glass, tiles and joinery nod to history. However, the most unique feature are the wall finishes. The original walls have a smooth plaster with detailing above the picture rail datum line and the newly added walls flip it with a textured wall below the datum line and a smooth space above it, inferring, ever-so-subtly through textures to the passage of time.

Photography by Clinton Weaver

Modernist Home Tour: Features

The sense of playfulness in the home is evident from the moment you open the door. From the moment you walk up to the door of the white clad home, you’re enchanted by the homes sense of joy and logic. The original hallway is retained as a sort of organisation spine from which the house spreads out with doors lining the corridor and maximising space. The high-light windows, light timber and white walls also help to create a sense of limitless space.

Photography by Clinton Weaver

Modernist Home Tour: Garden

If the dividing corridor is the central nervous system of JJ House, the garden is the heart and soul. Designating the garden as the central hub of the home allows for a sun-soaked vibe and natural light that is sorely lacking to many federation bungalows of a similar era. The carefully placed sightlines within the 108-metres-squared space, create a sense of generosity by blurring the lines between the indoor and outdoor space.

Nowhere is this generosity so deeply felt as in the kitchen which is cleverly twisted to run parallel to the side boundary of the property. With the ability to convert the kitchen into an alfresco dining area, the room creates yet another sense of connection with the garden.

Photography by Clinton Weaver

It cannot be overstated how important this connection with the garden was, orienting the home towards the garden was, after all, one of the key element of the brief. With the new renovation, all windows are oriented towards the garden, greedily drinking up natural light and creating the sense of an urban oasis. The natural light pulling in from the garden also helps to accentuate the internal height which can so often feel lacking in the traditional, single-story federation bungalows that populate the Inner West.

Photography by Clinton Weaver

Modernist Home Tour: Neighbourhood

The neighbourhood of Lilyfield is one of our favourites in the Inner West, with a warm, village feel courtesy of the suburbs working-class roots. With quiet, tree-lined streets, heritage homes and the natural beauty of nearby Iron Cove and Callan Park, there’s so much to love about Lilyfield.

If you happen to be in the hood, make sure you check out the Orange Grove Farmer’s Market and check out some of our favourite cafés Brew Ha Ha Coffee Roasters and Pane E Cipolla.

Photography by Clinton Weaver.

Builder: Heath Millard & Andrew Connell

Engineer: SDA Structures

350 Catherine Street, Lilyfiled is for sale through Belle Property Annandale. Contact selling agents, Rebecca Duncan & Simone Azzi, for more information.

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