Inside an Award Winning Enmore Renovation

Imagine buying your very own Inner West address for $156,000. If you did you likely bought around the same time as Tony and Helen Deas 26 years ago. Your only regret, that you didn’t buy two or three, hindsight is such a wonderful thing. Mind you 26 years ago $156,000 felt like an enormous amount, especially for a dark and gloomy almost derelict semi on a snug 200m site in Enmore that needed buckets in the roof space to catch the leaks. At the time interest rates were around 15 per cent and buying this home was a total leap of faith for Helen and Tony. When they looked in the Real Estate Agent’s window the home that caught their eye was the cheapest one. The ad said “this home needs some TLC” – it needed far more than that.

It had been stripped of all heritage features and had floorboards that were rotten to the core. Helen and Tony told us “the stench of nicotine was set deep into the walls and the house was the ugliest in the real estate window. It had been ‘modernised’ with a large single window at the front and a big rusty aluminium awning, red bricks made up the front fence and grey, white and pink bathroom tiles covered the front facade.”

“One of our first jobs was to restore our ugly duckling to its original look. We set about chipping off all the textured render and restored the single front window with an original looking pair. We are lucky our home has a twin next door so the company we used to re-instate the front mouldings, JVC at Lewisham, could take moulds from our next door neighbour’s and match them to exactly what they would have been originally. We re-instated the front fence with spears using The Terrace House Factory at Ultimo and purchased a lovely lead light entrance door to fit the period.”

Photo: Vikram Hingmire

Helen and Tony’s Enmore home is far from a dark gloomy rabbit warren now. Over many years this Inner West couple rolled up their sleeves and put some hard core TLC and blood sweat and tears into it. They’ve raised their two now teenage daughters here and in 2017 a total renovation of the back section of the home was the final part of the transformation. Now this home is a perfect blend of old and new, restored heritage features in the original front half of the home transition with ease into a modern minimalist rear addition that was influenced by Tony and Helen’s love of warehouses. Despite being south facing, Helen and Tony’s home is now full of abundant natural light and feels warm, welcoming and spacious and the restored façade fits beautifully into the early 20th century street scape.

Photo: Vikram Hingmire

Helen chats to us as she brews a coffee from her snug yet well-equipped butler’s pantry, it’s not large but it doesn’t feel small. I notice that spaces don’t have to be large if they are designed well, something Architect Amrish Maharaj has cleverly executed throughout this design. I had forgotten that this home was in fact on a narrow 5m wide urban site, it feels spacious and has a beautiful easy flow. The indoor spaces flow naturally to the outdoors thanks to the oversized bi-folds and extended polished concrete floor and, despite being in the middle of a tight urban environment, carefully placed windows indulge our senses with views of greenery and provide us with a great sense of space. The design is testament that size really doesn’t matter, as Amrish noted “It’s about quality of space not quantity of space” and it’s clear that every millimetre of this home has been carefully considered. Helen and Tony could see Amrish’s approach was not cookie cutter and they would end up in a home that truly met their needs.

Photos: (L) Vikram Hingmire (R) My Inner West Address

“We designed the home for us, for how our family live and what is important to us, we love to entertain and the home needed to allow us to do this with ease, it’s now become the place our teenage daughter’s friends happily gather and we regularly throw a big cheese platter out over the kitchen bench and have friends over all the time. It’s such a pleasure to cook in the house and share it with others. Despite stealing some space from the courtyard for the rear addition, the way it flows between the two spaces means that the yard doesn’t actually feel any smaller.”

“Our favourite room in the house is the kitchen and lounge room area. It is the place where we spend so much time and where we can all be together as a family. We love the light that floods in during the day, the view out to the garden and the pops of green and sky through so many angles.”

Photos: (Top L) Vikram Hingmire (R) My Inner West Address

According to Architect Amrish Maharaj the biggest challenge was drawing light and air into the south facing addition.  “Like most homes in the inner west,” Amrish told us “space was premium. The desire to make the most of the tight 200sq.m site, while not compromising the functionality of the rear garden was highly desired.”

“I remember my first meeting with Helen and Tony. It was around mid-day, and still in the late stages of summer. We sat around their dining table in the old rear addition. The first thing I noticed, despite the sun shining outside, was that all the lights were turned on.”

Photo: My Inner West Address

“Our main objective was to create a light and bright addition. Not an easy task, as the rear of the home was south facing. The design solution centred around the creation of a large void space which drew northern light from strategically placed windows.”

“With most of our Inner West projects, our approach is to retain and restore the original house because these homes all have individual charm and personality which cannot not be replicated by a contemporary home. We see our work as adding a chapter to the story of these homes.”

Photo: Vikram Hingmire

“Helen and Tony had done an amazing job with the front half, literally bringing it back to life. Our strategy was to build on this, by restoring and retaining the key features of the Victorian home while replacing the non-original kitchen and dining addition at the rear.”

Photos: My Inner West Address

Since it’s transformation Enmore House by Amrish Maharaj was a finalist in the Marrickville Medal and Builder Chris Peat, who Helen and Tony say “was super knowledgeable and provided valuable input and suggestions in the planning stage” won a 2018 Housing Industry Association Award for the build of this home.

Photo: (Top) Vikram Hingmire (Bottom) My Inner West Address

Helen and Tony’s:

Biggest splurge: “The Zip instant hot water tap in the butler’s pantry.”

Best cost saving tips: “Shop around, know your prices, know what you want and buy on sale.”

Renovation advice: “Do your research and be very clear about what you want. We curated Instagram and Pinterest boards for every room and major element in the house and used these to make sure our architect and our builder were all clear on our vision. These also helped us save time when searching for products.”

Advice when choosing a builder: “Ask for references for their work and go and look at previous home’s they’ve built. Chris’ standard of work was excellent and his communication was outstanding so we locked him in early. Knowing what you want and being clear on all your costs will reduce any blowouts.”

Local Inner West Recommendations: “We shopped locally where we could and highly recommend Art of Tiles in Newtown, Cass Brothers in Petersham and Z-Two Lighting at Leichhardt. They all provided fantastic service and very competitive prices.”

Photo: (Top L) Vikram Hingmire (Bottom) My Inner West Address

Meeting Tony and Helen, Blake and I felt instantly comfortable and relaxed. Their home is for them and it’s reflective of their personalities. It has an urban modern edge but is completely down to earth. Despite the rear addition being minimalist (which can often conjure up images of boring and sterile) this home feels warm, welcoming and comfortable. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it.

Annika and Blake


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