West End Girl – Durham House, Brisbane’s darling boutique accommodation alternative

When Durham House was purchased by its current owners, Caroline Novinc and her partner Mark in 2007, the weathered four room worker’s cottage with a tired verandah and rusty tin pyramid roof had long seen better days.

While structurally sound, the dilapidated circa 1920s dwelling certainly didn’t turn many heads. However, where most people saw headaches, the progressive thinking new owners saw potential; after all, the home was so closely located to the city and the popular cultural precinct, and it put them in the heart of West End’s enviable urban village lifestyle. Caroline and Mark set out on an ambitious renovation and briefed the architects, Vokes & Peters, to plan an extensive but sympathetic upgrade designed to accommodate their growing family of six. The architects were inspired. After six months of design and documentation and a further nine months of construction the transformation was complete, and the makeover totally fabulous!

“We were adamant about retaining the traditional elements of the house”, Caroline explained.  “And we wanted to ensure that the new additions remained respectful to the original character”. The existing cottage and verandah at the front of the home have been completely restored. On one side now is a master bedroom with ensuite, and a separate living (or media room). The other side offers the main sitting room and dining area with kitchen. A extension takes the original cottage into a scullery kitchen. A staircase leads down into a charming internal courtyard, featuring a brick fireplace and towering chimney. And an internal walkway wraps around one side of the courtyard, leading to wet areas and two more bedrooms.

On the other side of the courtyard, exterior masonry stairs flow into a spacious, shaded garden. “The house now offers numerous functional indoor and outdoor living spaces, and excellent privacy from all aspects”, Caroline added. The space is immaculately styled too. “The genre is Scandi-Australian. It is pure and pared-back and centred around functionality, clean lines, flawless craftsmanship and understated elegance” the owner continued. Honest finishes have been used throughout the home such as stone, timber and linen against a backdrop of white, that is softened with a palette of taupes, bare wooden floors and handmade rugs. The quality of light internally is quite stunning and there is a strong connection with the outdoors. It’s little wonder the old cottage now commands attention. In fact its’ treasure chest of accolades includes the 2015 Houses Award for “Best Alteration & Addition under 200m2”.

The Durham House owners have recently relocated to new lodgings in the Byron Bay hinterland, where they are planning another grand renovation. However, they have opened their West End beauty to the holiday rental market – where it’s filling a significant gap for quality accommodation away from the city in Brisbane’s inner south.  It is a unique alternative to a luxury hotel apartment. While the charm of the character building coupled with modern and elegantly crafted interiors provides a tasteful and welcoming destination for families or groups of up to six people, the delightful address is luring just as many couples seeking a romantic escape. Durham House has quickly become a West End favourite. The old girl can also be booked for private events and location hire.