Beach house renovation turns Torquay fixer-upper into stylish home

“We took it all apart.”

That was hardly an overstatement. Much of the drab, brick facade was disassembled and repurposed. The floors were lowered and internal walls reconfigured. Nine years later, the new home is barely recognizable as what once stood at 13 Aquilla Avenue.

The old kitchen, which featured a fireplace which also opened into the living room.

The old kitchen, which featured a fireplace which also opened into the living room. Credits: Domain

The fairly average-looking 1980s brick structure became a stylish modern home with what Dunstan said was a timeless street presence and well-manicured garden.

“It’s all clad in cypress, it doesn’t change color, it doesn’t need much maintenance,” she said. “I wanted to keep it coastal and organic-looking, too.”

Inside, exposed brick, dark timber and chipboard walls have given way to bright wallpaper. A dated kitchen has been given a fundamental makeover and the back porch extended into a terrace.

It was hard for Dunstan to choose a favorite element in the renovated home.

Dunstan in the finished kitchen.

Dunstan in the finished kitchen. Credits: Penny Stephens

“I love the terrace out the back, we’ve never had a terrace area under the roofline but I just love it,” Dunstan said.

“I engaged a local concrete artisan to do the kitchen benches. We designed the island bench together. I wanted it to be more of a gathering space or a feature space.

“I’m pretty happy with it. In my line of work, I like all styles but I don’t usually get the opportunity to play around with what I like.”

Loading

Dunstan was particularly happy with her approach to renovating the home: keeping and reusing the existing brick was a point of pride.

“It felt good because when I started my career, I got a bit involved in volume building and I was a bit horrified by that industry,” she said. “So it feels great I saved this ugly duckling.

“We took apart the bricks and we cleaned it up. What we didn’t put back into the house we sold.

“I do believe all bricks can be beautiful.”

Dunstan is mulling selling the house after making some final improvements. Torquay agency McCarthy director Tim Carson said it could prove popular if listed.

“They’ve turned an ugly duckling into a swan, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s one of the nicer homes from the area, and they haven’t been over capitalized.

“There’s not a lot of ultra-modern type homes in that area. They certainly have something now that looks fantastic and is what everyone’s looking for today.”