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Thorn Place House

The brief was to bring this cramped 1960s family house to an energy rating of 7.5 from its original 2.5 rating. In doing so, we created a versatile, warm and inviting home with vibrant social spaces and great connection to the outdoors.

Adaptation was the key

Mindful of the future, the clients also wanted an adaptable home that could be split into two self-contained units – providing a potential source of income rather than becoming an empty nest.

To achieve these aims, we kept upstairs changes to a minimum and reworked the downstairs floor plan: relocating the kitchen to the former living area, expanding the lounge room space, and moving the upper storey stairs to the hallway.

Improved natural light, a full kitchen refit and the addition of an expansive deck, accessible by ramp, have vastly improved the home’s liveability.

New insulation, improved solar access and hydronic heating have delivered substantial improvements in energy performance: electricity consumption has halved, and the home has achieved an 8-star rating for the downstairs areas and a 7-star rating for the upper floor.

*This project was selected as the ACT Case Study in the Australian Government’s publication Your Home: Australia’s guide to environmentally sustainable homes and was featured in Sanctuary Magazine Issue 20 in late 2012. You can read a blog about how it copes in the summer heat here and the winter cool here.

Key features

  • 826m2 flat site with orientation of north to the street
  • House floor area increased from 177m2 to 186m2
  • Renovation: floor plan reconfigured and ground floor ceiling increased to improve light, warmth and connection to the outdoors, while improving overall energy efficiency
  • Extension: 9m2 added to existing footprint to increase size of the living room and entry.
  • Customised joinery throughout existing house and extension including ‘close-away’ study desk nooks
  • Large internal sliding doors allow separation of living areas
    - Designed with the ability to transform one family home into two separate units, each with their own northern terrace
  • Future planning for ‘aging in place’ with wheel chair access to ground floor
  • Tailored to the site and designed to our client’s brief and budget


Sustainable elements

  • Recycling/reuse of old stairs, kitchen, bathroom
  • Reuse of all white goods
  • Bamboo flooring
  • High performance lead-free PVC windows (tilt and turn, tilt and slide mechanisms)
  • Recycled polystyrene insulation retrofitted to existing walls
  • Hydronic heating
  • Ceiling fans
  • LED lighting
  • Solar hot water
  • Shared laundry
  • Water tanks plumbed to toilet and laundry
  • Low VOC finishes throughout