Renovation: Exterior Finish, Interior Transformation

Part Two

Once the welcome mat had been dusted off and the entranceway transformed I stepped inside and used an exterior finish on the interior.

(Sorry for the super grainy ‘after’ pics throughout but the originals are lost)

Exterior Finish: ‘Mud’ Render to the Rescue

It’s no secret that I love light and airy houses so the dark orangey brick walls were on my hit list from day one. The quick and predictable solution was to cover them with plasterboard and paint, but the house is in an upmarket area and I didn’t want it to look boring or predictable…or cheap. To fix the problem I borrowed a look from a neighbouring suburb well known for mud brick homes. These ‘muddies’ are an adobe style and use strong elements such as exposed recycled bridge timbers and brick floors. These combine with the mudbrick walls inside and out to give an immediate feel of a warm family home.

That look became the inspiration for the interior transformation
embracing the timber and giving the old feature walls a soft new variation.

Whitehall Entry After

Whitehall Entry Before

The timber screen dividing the foyer from the open plan living had a great Mid Modern vibe
and was always going to stay just the way it was.

However the dark brick in the entrance, living room and family space was too imposing for the scale of the rooms. That’s where the biggest change was needed.  So in came a local ‘muddie’ expert and away went the exposed brick. Once it was rendered in a soft, unstructured and rustic coating of ‘mud’ the house filled with light. While initially the idea had horrified friends it quickly became the most loved and talked about element in the house.

Whitehall Livingroom After

Whitehall Living Room Before

Naturally light with a soft artisan finish, including the occasional hand print,
the result enlarged the rooms and lifted the already high sweep of the cedar lined ceiling.
That also needed some love to bring out it’s beauty.

Finishing Touches

Here the major beams of the roof were exposed and had been painted in the same rather sickly yellow used on the exterior trim. My carpenter boxed them in with matching long lengths of cedar which he carefully stained to match the aged tone of the ceiling. The beauty of the clear grade cedar became a striking feature once the dominating weight of the brick was gone.

The render isn’t really mud of course.
It’s a specialised cement and pigment mix troweled on and wiped off with a rag.
The ridges are softened but still maintain an irregular and light surface.

The view through to the living room shows how much larger it appeared once the brick was covered.  The Habitat ‘Aperture’ light fitting I used to replaced the original and impractical hanging ball lights created a soft glow and beautiful shadows.

The fireplace needed restyling including a new solid mantle tiled in a tumbled travertine mosaic which was used on the hearth as well . These colors worked beautifully with the soft earthy neutral tones of the mud render.

The Dining Room Revived

The dining area was the next in line for a makeover.

Here the first of 3 sets of new French Doors were installed and the room now opened onto a private entertaining courtyard and garden. As the original access had been through the laundry these doors made a dramatic difference to the way the house functioned day-to-day. They also made the room feel like it was part of the garden and the mud render was echoed in elements of the garden design.  More about that later in the story.

Whitehall Dining Room After

Whitehall Dining Room Before

Throughout the more formal areas of the house the mud render was a great success.
When the classic exterior finish came inside it became the center point of the interior transformation.

Watch out for Part Three where I continue the transformation into the kitchen and family spaces.