{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Housing industry insights Economics Insights Data & forecasts Tailored research and analysis Advocacy & policy Advocacy Policy priorities Position statements Submissions News and inspiration Industry news Member alerts Media releases HOUSING Online
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Member perks Toyota vehicles The Good Guys Commercial Fuel savings See all Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) Solutions for your business Contracts Online Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Industrial relations
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives HIA Building Women GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2024 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA shop
HIA shop $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Most popular products National Construction Code Vol 1 & 2 Waterproofing wet areas AS 3740:2021 HIA Guide to Waterproofing HIA Guide to NCC Livable Housing Provisions Top categories Building codes & standards Contracts & documents Guides & manuals Safety products Signage For your business Contracts Online Digital Australian Standards Digital Resource Library Forecasts & data
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faTimes
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Address
Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Bungalow bliss

A thoughtfully-rendered remodel and extension updates this home for twentieth century beachside living, while gently respecting it’s architectural history.

Bungalow bliss

A thoughtfully-rendered remodel and extension updates this home for twentieth century beachside living, while gently respecting it’s architectural history.

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes

Gabrielle Chariton

Author

Contributor to Housing

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.’ 

The pavillion-style extension opens via full-height glazing onto a landscaped alfresco area. Photo courtesy Felix Forest
Vj-lined ceiling studded with skylights. Photo courtesy Felix Forest
Lucky then, that Matt is a builder who thrives on ‘interesting projects that are unique and have a bit of design input from us’. Hailing from England, where he first trained as a carpenter, Matt moved to Australia about 13 years ago and started MJK Building in 2010. His original aim was to create a niche within Sydney’s Northern Beaches market for creatively challenging renovations and new builds. Success came quickly, driven by MJK’s high-level workmanship and strong word-of-mouth around the area. ‘We’re just passionate about building, so I think the rest of it comes easy when you like what you do,’ he says. In the street that Pacific House is located in, for example, MJK has worked on no less than eight homes, thanks to neighbourly recommendations.
 
The scope of works for Pacific House included a full remodel of the original home. The MJK team removed some walls to create a more family-friendly layout, renovated the bathrooms and transformed the loft area into a rumpus room. They also demolished the existing, dated rear addition to make way for the defining element of the project, a new pavilion-style extension – a light, bright, elegant space that houses the kitchen, laundry, living and dining areas and opens via full-height glazing onto a landscaped alfresco area. 
 
handmade moroccan tiles and rich marble. Photo courtesy Felix Forest
The house took shape organically Photo courtesy Felix Forest
Physically building the pavilion – particularly in the absence of detailed plans – was a fairly involved process thanks to its unique design. ‘It was a square room with a Mansard hipped roof around all four walls and a flat top section,’ Matt explains. ‘We had to excavate and put a big slab down for the structural steel. It’s very hard to brace a shape like that had so there was a lot of steel, I think it was 100 different pieces.’ 
 
Externally, the pavilion reads as a contemporary space, clad in vertical planks of stained ash from Sculptform, softening the bold shape, while surrounded by picture-perfect stands of palm trees. Inside, it’s a luxe, light-filled sanctuary; its crisp white walls and understated oak floorboards the perfect canvas for an eclectic, yet pared-back decor. The VJ-lined ceiling, studded with skylights to capture the northern sun, soars overhead, following the distinctive angles of the roofline. ‘The challenge with the ceiling was that we needed to make sure all the VJ profiles lined up on the hips,’ Matt says. ‘Mathematically, that’s really hard…we achieved it by using a manufactured VJ lining board for some of the ceiling, then as we went around, we made custom boards, routing the V-grooves ourselves, which allowed us to adjust the spacing as needed.’ 
‘we’re just passionate about building, so i think the rest of it comes easy when you like what you do’ Photo courtesy Felix Forest
Interior designer Megan Brown dreamed up a way to transform this ugly duckling into a bona-fide beach babe Photo courtesy Felix Forest
While the architecture of the pavilion is singularly contemporary, the skillful use of colour, finishes and accent joinery visually smooths the transition between the old and new sections of the home. Heritage details, such as the ornate ceiling plasterwork, are juxtaposed against ultra-modern light fittings. In the bathrooms, pale grey handmade Moroccan tiles frame the marble vanities. Marble reappears on a fireplace and – in a bolder, more graphic pattern – the kitchen island. The kitchen splashback, bathed in light flooding down from a concealed overhead skylight, is finished in a subtly textured Venetian plaster. This softly lustrous finish is also used around the bespoke off-form concrete fireplace that Matt built in the pavilion.
 

The linear patterning of the pavilion’s external cladding is mirrored in the interior joinery. The built-in cabinets feature retro-inspired curved fronts, clad in distinctive vertically-grooved panelling. The same panelling is used around the stairs that lead up to the loft, and on a dramatic curved feature wall dividing the kitchen and laundry spaces inside the pavilion. ‘That was all constructed from routed MDF panelling,’ Matt says, adding that creating the curved wall involved a lot of trial and error. ‘It took the joiner about six or seven goes…he kept trying different ways until he could get that curve right.’ 
Heritage details, such as the ornate ceiling plasterwork, are juxtaposed against ultra-modern light fittings. Photo courtesy Felix Forest
Oak timberfloors. Photo courtesy Felix Forest
The home took about 12 months to complete, and Matt believes that the lack of highly prescriptive planning actually contributed to the overall success of the finished project. The house took shape organically – one idea inspiring the next. ‘From getting out of the ground right to completion, we were continuously consulting with the designer about how things would work and how things would fit with the next item,’ he says. And while moving through a constantly-shifting project presented logistical problems, Matt says that from the very beginning he knew it was destined to be something special. ‘I could see the designer’s end vision…we just went on that journey with her and it was really satisfying to see it all take shape and come together into something so beautiful.’ 

Pacific House at a glance

Builder

MJK Building

Designer

Megan Brown, Penman Brown

Materials

  • Exterior: Sculptform stained ash timber
  • Windows: Shamrock Joinery, Stegbar, Vision 3 Windows
  • Flooring: Oak timber floorboards
  • Tiles: large format, handmade Moroccan tiles, Di Lorenzo and Moroccan Zellige wall tiles from Barefoot Living
  • Kitchen benchtop: CDK Stone marble
  • Ensuite vanities: CDK Stone marble
  • Tapware: Sussex Taps, Brodware Yakato
  • Lighting: Rakumba Standley wall light from Design Nation.