Life Home Before and after: rundown heritage-listed home is revived in style
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Before and after: rundown heritage-listed home is revived in style

Before and after: Rescuing this dilapidated house was a major job. Photo: Graya Construction
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Rob and Andrew Gray are the brothers behind Graya Construction, who came across this heritage-listed home in Brisbane’s trendy suburb of Paddington and gave it a makeover that you have to see to believe.

The home had gone to wrack and ruin, and when the duo first walked through, they knew they would have their work cut out for them.

The neighbours deemed it the eyesore of the street, as it had become completely dilapidated over the years. Rob and Andrew worked in collaboration with D-Line Architecture to pull out the potential in this ugly duckling. The brothers completed the home in November 2015 and are now living there to fully enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Houzz at a Glance

Who lives here: Rob and Andrew Gray, along with Rob’s wife Meghan, and their two cats Ninja and Spot
Where: Paddington, Brisbane, QLD
Size: 430 square metres; 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

This is really a story about determination – Rob and Andrew took only six-and-a-half months to complete the renovation, and together they faced each one of the challenges the old home presented head on. As the home was in located in a heritage-listed precinct, the brothers were unable to knock down the house and start afresh – which they said would have been easier.

The 600-square-metre plot of land the house is located on is on the larger size for property in Paddington. Rob says that usually plots are 300 to 400 square metres, due to the close proximity to the city. It also slopes away from the street frontage and has city views from the back of the block.

Of course, before the transformation could get properly underway, the brothers had to clear away the mounds of rubbish that the previous homeowners had left behind, which unfortunately came with the house. Rob says this was one of the hardest parts of the transformation – the smell alone was off-putting! “It took 12 trips with a 10-cubic-metre tip truck to get rid of it,” he recalls. “It was a horrible experience for everyone involved. The smell lasted for about three months and then one day, it just went.”

The brothers gained quite a bit of attention when they posted these before/after shots on Graya Contruction’s Instagram account, as many people couldn’t believe the massive task at hand to breathe life back into this mess.

Rob and Andrew had renovated similar properties to this one in the past, so they knew how to create a modern take on a traditional Queenslander. However, like many old properties, this one came with its challenges.

“There were some issues from the outset as we didn’t realise structurally how bad the house was,” says Rob. “Once the rubbish was removed we had to restore the foundations to create a safe working environment. This slightly affected the budget, but we were able to still produce what we originally intended.”

Once they had the foundations of the property in order, the brothers wanted to create a home that promoted the breezy Queensland lifestyle. They did this by designing an airy open-plan main living area, with a large void space above. This is Rob’s favourite room in the house, as he loves the sheer volume of it. A lot of time is also spent outdoors, where the L-shaped pool and barbecue area makes enjoying the Brisbane sun very easy.

“We have a big focus on entertaining guests, which this house is perfect for,” says Rob. “As soon as you walk through the front door and see the open-plan nature of the room, along with the double-height voids, you can’t help but be drawn the living/ dining/ kitchen/ entertainment area.”

The kitchen is sleek and functional. The brothers used a spotted gum veneer for the overhead cabinets, charcoal cupboards with timber handles, and a Petra marble splashback. The floating island benchtop in Carrara marble contrasts beautifully with the darker elements, and a butler’s pantry gives them enough space to stock all their food.

Other features in this space that contribute to making it perfect for entertaining include the outdoor barbecue area and the wine room – where prized bottles can be displayed for all to see, thanks to the window. Rob had used this idea in other projects before. “I got the idea a few years ago from a restaurant, and the house I was building at the time had a huge butler’s pantry, so I thought this would look great as a wine cellar,” he says.

While Rob, Andrew, Meghan and the two cats are currently enjoying all the hard work put into the project, they may eventually sell it on to new homeowners and make a profit to use on another major renovation. “Even though the site is city fringes, we still wanted to have an external area that would appeal to families with children by including a pool and backyard,” Rob says, as he reflects on the up-sell value of the home.

The layout is four times as large as the original home, with the help of the upstairs addition making room for extra bedrooms, a bathroom and a study.

In part of this upstairs addition sits the master bedroom. A spotted gum seating nook provides a special place to look out onto the city view, and a ribbon window above the bed lets in more light. The roof rafters in this room are one of the few original features the duo kept. The only other elements maintained were the floor jousts and wall framing.

The ensuite is located next to the bedroom and is visible through the internal window. This is to promote the flow from one room to the other. A floating vanity gives the illusion of even more room in this space, and separated behind the glass screen is a shower and large bathtub.

A generously-sized wardrobe is also accessible from the master bedroom. Ample storage and lighting make it the dream space for a fashionista.

The two brothers are very proud of their finished work, and have a new-found appreciation for minimalism. “If you saw the house before we started, you would have walked the other way,” says Rob. “All the neighbours are thrilled with the improvement of the property and that it is no longer the ‘eyesore’ of the street.”

By Emily Hutchinson

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