CONTEMPORARY HOME / HERITAGE ZONE: Updating older homes and successful DAs

Alterations an Addition

The MWa Way Builds the Past Into the Future, Embracing How We Live Now and the Next Generation of Family Living.


CONTEMPORARY HOME / HERITAGE ZONE: Updating older homes and successful DAs.

MWa specialise in residential architecture, interiors and outdoor living.

Many of our past projects have been in Heritage Conservation Areas of Sydney’s north shore and northern beaches, including Mosman, Northern Beaches, Willoughby, Ku ring gai and The City of Sydney Council areas.

Our approach to older homes is to work with our clients to update their homes to suit contemporary residential amenity, while retaining the best of the existing character of the original home.

Our clients live in homes which were built for another era.

Older homes were built to suit the requirements of their day, and don’t reflect how we live now.

These homes have character but don’t provide modern residential amenities (like outdoor entertaining, inside/outside connection, site responsive sunshine and daylight, generous main bedrooms, bathrooms, adequate storage, good garaging.)  These homes don’t embrace how we live now, don’t facilitate our contemporary lifestyles.  These homes don’t anticipate flexible uses over time, adaptable living for ageing occupants or multi generational living.

Typically, these are the issues we deal with when working with older homes, the things lacking in older homes which our generation of family living expect.

  • number of bedrooms
  • number of bathrooms
  • storage
  • car parking
  • open plan living
  • natural light and solar access to sunshine
  • connection between the house with the garden and outdoor living


The MWa Way builds the best of the past into your future.

We have worked with homes which are heritage listed, homes adjacent to heritage listed homes and in many cases, homes within heritage conservation areas.

We have successfully achieve Development Consents in the above council areas.

We have successfully achieved consent for minor maintenance works for homes in heritage conservation areas, without having to go through a full DA (using the heritage clauses in council Local Environment Plans).

We have even successfully achieved minor renovation works at the rear of properties in heritage conservation areas using the NSW SEPP for Exempt and Complying Development (Complying Development Certificate using an independent certifier).

Michelle Walker is on the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage website heritage advisory listings.


If you have a home in a heritage conservation area, MWa can help you to make the most of your house and navigate through the approvals process.

Take a look at our Portfolio of projects, for inspirations about how good a home can be.

Please read our Client Testimonials on the blog to understand how positive a renovation journey can be.

Download our Information Pack.

Read our Client Advice articles on the blog.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Book an On-Site Consultation via the Contact Us form on the website.

Email us on:  talktous@mwarchitects.net.au.

Or call on 0421 088 110.





North Shore Heritage Architecture Pymble

North Shore Heritage Architecture Pymble:  “Covington”

A gem of a project in Pymble, on Sydney’s north shore, has started construction, with the original 1935’s home by a prominent Sydney architects Morrow and Gordon literally untouched.


Heritage Architecture Pymble

Heritage Architecture Pymble


The current owners are the lucky second owners of the special home, and have inherited the original water colour architectural drawings and specification by the architect.

The home was purpose built for the Mr Herriot Esquire, whose initials are carved in the sandstone fireplace surround.

Built at the time of Sydney’s suburbanisation, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge just opened and depression era work gangs constructing new roads, the areas around Pymble were being converted from orchards to family estates and suburban allotments.

Just a block from the train station, the home reflects the aspirations of domestic life at the time.  The house is one of the first to incorporate garaging with a double garage with internal access.

The home features a fine formal entry, living room and dining room, an original butlers pantry with servant bells, kitchen, laundry, maids room and three separate interior wet area rooms – bathroom, shower and WC.  Hydronic heating powered by a coal boiler is plummed throughout the home with decorative brass grills in the formal rooms and wall mounted heaters in the “back of house” areas.

The home has three bedrooms including one in the attic.

Architecture Awards for Alterations & Addition – Residential Architecture

Architecture Awards

Architecture Awards

MWa have submitted The Diamond House, Artarmon into the Architecture Awards (2017 Australian Institute of Architecture NSW Houses Awards for Residential Architecture, Alterations & Additions). 

The Diamond House is a revitalised 1920s Californian Bungalow in a heritage conservation area in Artarmon (Willoughby Council), on the north shore of Sydney.

The clients are a tall and sporty family with three teenagers and this is to be their ideal home, next to the station, with a long north aspect.

The brief was for a low maintenance home, with northern sunshine into every room, framed views of greenery, contemporary character and space (with height) for all.

As the new owners, the clients also wanted a single level home which retained the heritage character at the front with contemporary living to the rear. 

Their accommodation brief was for a practical home with three teenager bedrooms conducive to HSC/uni study, and a family bathroom which could be used by all three teenagers at once – with privacy control.

They also needed a main bedroom suite, two living areas, a home office nook, a big kitchen, laundry with a built in ironing board, a covered outside space with bbq, storage, space for their artworks, a low maintenance garden and a garage.

The result is a home with a consistent use of materials and colours – from outside to inside, from front to back, from traditional to contemporary. 

The materials and colours form a palette of Australian hardwood (blackbutt), existing red bricks, new “bowral blue” facebricks, off form concrete, concrete look large format tiles through the home including wet areas, colourbond “monument” to new doors and windows,  dulux “whisper white” joinery and trims, and orange features (dulux “coppersmith” front door and cladding, “tangerine” pinboards, orange indoor/outdoor cushions, corten steel landscape features).

From a house built in the depression, amidst a materials storage and with an outdoor toilet – to The Diamond House of today, this project is a sensitive adaption of an outdated home and reflects the values,  aesthetics and standards of today’s domestic life.

Space standards, bathroom amenity, privacy, indoor/outdoor connection, abundant natural light, control over solar access (blinds and vergola), inbuilt USB ports, garaging, home office nook in the kitchen, rainwater tanks – these are all illustrations of contemporary lifestyle and domestic technology.

The insertion of new bespoke joinery into an existing traditional timber bay window seat in Bed 04 – which can be removed at any stage, and the new contemporary box bay window in Bed 03 – are examples of old to new within the home.

The boldness of the contemporary design, in the interior arrangement of the home, the materials selections and character of the home and its passive solar design principles, within a heritage conservation area and conservative suburban context, is an innovation in residential design itself.

The consistent, fresh and playful use of materials and colour, inside and out, also garnered recognition with a commendation in the Dulux Colour Awards for Residential.

Click here for more information about the Architecture Awards. 

2017 NSW Architecture Awards

Awards are announced 1 July 2017. 

Presented by Houses magazine, the Houses Awards is an annual program celebrating Australia’s best residential projects. Excellence is rewarded in nine categories, with the best house receiving the premier award of Australian House of the Year.  A Houses Award is one of Australia’s most sought-after accolades for residential work.

Each year, the Houses Awards entries provide a unique insight into contemporary residential design and the contribution Australia’s architects and designers make to enhancing the way we live today.

Entries are judged by an eminent panel of architects and designers who are themselves are recognised for creating inspirational Australian homes. The judging process is anonymous, transparent and confidential.