Californian bungalows, with their solid, welcoming facades and decorative detailing, were a dominant housing style of the early twentieth century, and their heritage appeal underpins the character of suburban streetscapes around Australia to this day. However, while charming, original Californian bungalows don’t necessarily align with twenty-first century lifestyles, with closed-off kitchens and living areas, and small windows hooded with heavy timber framing that make the interiors feel dark and gloomy.
All these problems were present in the Californian bungalow that became MJK Building
’s Pacific House project. The home had good bones, but inadequate living space for the owner’s family of five, and the cold, dark, south-facing living areas were completely at odds with the home’s enviable location, just minutes from the shores of Sydney’s Manly Beach.
In 2018, interior designer Megan Brown, principal of Penman Brown
, dreamed up a way to transform this ugly duckling into a bona-fide beach babe, and engaged HIA member MJK Building to bring her ideas to life. From concept to completion, it was a project that challenged the building team’s technical and problem-solving skills. ‘It was not an architect-designed project; it was a collaboration between the interior designer and a draftsperson,’ explains Matt Williams, owner of MJK Building. ‘The plans we ended up with weren’t comprehensive. There were [many elements] we had to [creatively solve] as we went along, and due to the nature of the design, it all had to be millimetre-perfect.’