While honing her design skills over many years spent living in Melbourne, Bronwyn Labagnara became fascinated with modernist architecture. Having grown up in Brisbane, the interior designer and her husband were not officially “looking” when they spotted an original modernist house for sale in Chapel Hill, Brisbane’s inner-West. However, they immediately saw this place’s potential. Designed by acclaimed modernist architect, John Dalton, and built in 1964, the house had won a Residential Architectural award from the Australian Institute of Architects. The couple snapped it up, prompting their family’s move to the sunshine state in 2015, and the beginning of a meaningful design project for Bronwyn and her newly formed studio, Hannah & Co. Design.
Bronwyn describes the house in its original state as having “peach paint throughout, a bright blue kitchen, and a wild backyard with overgrown everything’. But, it had architectural details ‘to die for’ – with deep eaves, timber panelling, shadow lines galore and smart, efficient spaces with glass and greenery for days!
Hannah & Co. Design worked collaboratively with a local architect, Bruce Mason, and builder, Jon Tucker, to honour the integrity of the original home, celebrating the modernist elements that worked well, while enhancing spatial functionality. This classic house has been elegantly adapted to a contemporary standard, and given a dose of decorative flare.
Internally, the central living spaces of the house were reconfigured for better connectivity and flow. The kitchen was opened up, and a new walkway spans the length of the connected living spaces orienting attention to the block’s leafy vista.
Structurally, a new adults’ retreat extends off one end of the central living spaces, including master bedroom, bathroom, walk-in robe, and study. An entertaining deck, pool and pool house were also added, the latter featuring a kitchenette and bathroom making it perfect for guests. The extension and separate pool house are angled to the original building enabling key living spaces to enjoy uninterrupted views out to bushland, dotted with majestic eucalypts.
To develop the original home’s core palette of timber, black and white, Bronwyn integrated references to the surrounding natural environment, in particular the towering gums. “I wanted to add richness and depth to the original palette. To bring the outside in, I used a tranquil green in the bedroom.” She also worked the living area floors back to their original concrete slab and had them polished, finishing this modernist gem with a notably cool depth of texture.