Renovating small spaces can be difficult. Factor in a heritage overlay, and you’ve got a whole new set of challenges. But Port Melbourne couple Sharon and Graeme Hunt have managed to transform their tiny Federation workers’ cottage into a functional family home - thanks to their canny architect.
“We only had 96 square metres to work with, and we had overlay, so obviously that ruled out the possibility of bulldozing down and starting over,” says Sharon, a journalist, who admits they moved to the area precisely because of its heritage charm.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a huge residential project, and it wasn’t a commercial build, so we needed someone who specialised in extremely tight spaces.” Enter Megan Hamer, of Hamer Architects. “She had done a couple of places which we saw come up that were quite similar, and of a similar size,” Graeme explains.
The couple met with Megan, and immediately knew she was the person to help - especially as she was mindful they were working to a tight budget.
“We had a really big list of things we would like. And then we gave them our budget - and that took care of that pretty quick!” says Graeme, who found out early in the process that their dreams of going-up a storey wouldn’t be realised, due to the lack of rear-lane access.
“That ruled that out, unless we hired a crane, which would have been prohibitively expensive,” Sharon adds. “But we did have a big list of other things we needed doing.
“We knew we wanted it to all be shiny and new and stuff - and that would happen in a renovation anyway - but the specific thing was storage, because this house had ZERO storage, at all.
“We also needed a new kitchen and bathroom, and there were all these quirks to the house that needed fixing, like the side corridor space which didn’t have a proper roof over it.”
Over a year, the couple worked with Megan on various drafts. Towards the end of that year, Sharon fell pregnant with their son, and more little tweaks - like the addition of a bath, which meant knocking out the back wall a further metre, and moving the hot water system - were made.
The actual build took three months, and, after paying extra to have their plans independently costed, was bang-on budget.
They used a builder, John Kennedy of J&S Kennedy Renovations, who was recommended by their architect, and despite finding out the back of the house would need to be totally re-stumped - luckily they’d factored in a little extra for unforeseen circumstance such as this - everything went according to plan.
But it was the little things - like Megan’s addition of clever storage solutions - that the couple say they’re most pleased about.
“One of the things Megan did, which we could never imagine doing on our own - she just did lots of tricky things that make the space look bigger than it does,” Sharon explains. “Like, with the TV unit cupboard, it’s not straight to the floor - there’s a gap underneath it, which is done to make it look bigger than it is.
The couple also had cupboards custom made to fit their space, designed to give the illusion of room they might not have had.
Megan also knew the couple didn’t have a place for a dining room table, so she created a multi-use bench, that could be both a food prep area, and dining space.
“It’s all these little things - that’s where the benefits of an architect come in,” Sharon adds. And Graeme finally got his sparkling new kitchen - complete with Neil Perry by Omega cookware!
“I am a journalist, Graeme is a chef - we don’t have tradie friends, and we don’t have time to do things ourselves,” Sharon explains.
“This is such a big investment, we couldn’t get it wrong. And there were all the other restrictions - like heritage overlay. But because we went with an architect from the beginning, everything went really smoothly, and it all took, maybe, just over a year, from start to finish.”
“I don’t think I would change a thing,” Graeme adds. “I actually enjoy cooking in my kitchen now!”
“And I’m benefiting from that,” Sharon adds.
This house is now for sale and listed here on Domain.