Home' Homes : Homes 2009 Contents 102 WA's Best Homes; architects, builders & designers 2009
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother
of invention. You don't need us to tell you that
the once-buoyant global economy has been
brought down to Earth in dramatic fashion and even the
once seemingly unstoppable West Australian economy
has had to cool its heels.
Yet despite all this nay-saying and doom and gloom,
in true (West) Aussie battler style, the state has learned
to roll with the punches and adapt to the change taking
place around us, as proven by the art of the renovation
beginning to come into (admittedly pragmatic) favour
And it's not just Average Joes and Joannes doing it
either, even architects -- yes, those who design homes
for a living -- are getting in on the act.
"We both like working with pre-existing as much as
designing from new," says architect Katherine Ashe.
"The constraints of working with the existing often create
opportunities for design. Also, we generally like to rescue
things that might otherwise be neglected."
Together with fellow architect and significant other
Marco Vittino (not only do they live together, the
duo also work in tandem, forming the brains trust of
architectural practise VittinoAshe), Katherine recently
completed a five-month renovation of the couple's one-
bedroom apartment in a North Perth block of flats.
For Katherine and Marco, it was the flats' modernist
and rationalist aesthetics that drew them to the property,
as did the location, city views and simple interior layout
that gave the duo plenty of makeover options.
With the exception of the bathroom, all the doors
were removed to create a sense of space.
Other major changes to the property included adding
internal cedar lining to ceilings and the entry wall; the
removal of carpet and bathroom tiles to make way for
the restoration of existing parquetry and mosaics; and the
installation of brand new cabinetry.
In the interests of saving money, Katherine and Marco
spent 600 hours over the project period doing most of
the building work themselves (they left the electrical
rewiring and plumbing connections to the professionals
and recommend that most others do too), but advise
would-be renovators to be aware of the challenges that
can turn DIY into a flurry of four-letter words, particularly
for couples going at it together.
"Working with Marco was generally agreeable,
although I did throw the paintbrush at him once," she
laughs. "Being architects is an advantage in making
decisions about design and finishes, but sometimes
it's hard to let go and the necessity of the detail can
cloud the big picture. Before embarking on a job, it's
important to understand the materials, procedures and
methods before going ahead. Measure twice, cut once!
I have learned that any project will take twice as long
as anticipated and Marco confirmed that he was right...
Petar and Ellen Ceklic are another young couple who
have been bitten by the renovation bug. Quite a few
times in fact.
The former Rockingham residents bought their
first home -- a three-bedroom fibro house in Bentley --
eight years ago in their early 20s (Petar: "It's funny how
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