• Jon Ruwolt

Quality Federation Renovations

Updated: Aug 12, 2019


CLASSIC beauty should be more than skin deep for grand Federation style houses.


There are several common ways of renovating a Federation home:



  1. The same materials: Builders and other tradespersons use the same materials to restore structural work, basically faithfully reproducing the original construction where needed and refurbishing existing components wherever possible.

Modern paints and other finishing products are acceptable, but must be faithful to the original.

Recycled materials are used wherever possible. This is an especially effective way to make a home extension blend in with the original house

  1. Modern materials manufactured and/or rendered to look like Federation era materials are used to restore and improve badly damaged Federation homes or homes that were built from fibrous cement. Brick and stone veneers are examples of this.


  1. A post modern approach to renovating Federation homes includes stylistic elements of the era and ultra-modern features that are in keeping with the original spirit of these homes.


For example, double-glazed floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors may be used at the back of the home to open it up to the garden. The garden may include native flora, a spacious lawn, a gazebo, a spa, a swimming pool or a combination of features.

  1. For the ultimate Federation home restoration, get an architect or interior designer with a background in the style to help you. Together, you can create a home that reflects your modern lifestyle and at the same time honours our rich Australian heritage.

Heritage Issues

While it may seem that heritage controls exist to preserve a building exactly as it originally stood, the Victorian Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure notes that

“not every building or landscape element will be significant”, and that making changes or removing “non-contributory” elements of heritage places is generally not an issue.


Such subjective terms make councils unpredictable, Barber says. As such, she advises that only the serious investor or renovator should approach a heritage property.

“You’ve got to be savvy. You need a good team of professional experts around you. You have your trade team and your professional team – ‘the suits’– your town planner, your architect, your lawyer, your structural engineer. And when you’re working on a heritage property, you’re going to need the suits more than the trade team.”


Wakelin Property Advisory founder Monique Sasson agrees.

“Normally they are extremely significant, 7 figure properties. There are two reasons you would buy one of those: as a loved and cherished family home, or as some kind of commercial enterprise, to have a heritage related business.”

“Either way, we’re talking about a very significant investment.”

“If you’ve got that kind of money, and you’re pretty set on holding on to the property for many years, then a heritage property can be great.”


Quality renovation delivers the goods

Scratch behind the surface of the charming red brick facade of 236 La Trobe Tce, Geelong West and you’ll find a thoughtful and quality renovation that sympathetically blends the best of old and new.


  • Elegant rooms with soaring decorative ceilings provide a comfortable backdrop for modern family life

  • One of Geelong’s most prolific architectural firms, Laird and Barlow, who played a hand in the Dalgety woolstores, originally designed the ornate villa for Geelong jeweller Frederick Band.

  • Completed in 1909, it displayed the architects’ hallmark hipped and gabled roof forms and a front return veranda with tulip motif timber fretwork.


Healthy outlook for grand Federation home

Built for Dr AJ Mollison in 1927, the striking property at 36 Furneaux Street, Griffith has stayed true to its heritage, even retaining the original hand basin in the doctor’s old treatment room.


“The integrity of the home is still there,” selling agent Michael Kumm says. “It’s still got the entrance to the doctor’s surgery and his waiting room is now the study for the current owner.”

“The room where Dr Mollison actually treated people still has the original hand basin that he used to wash his hands.”


Kumm, from Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Manuka, says the heritage listed home, named ‘Mollison’ after its original doctor owner, presents an opportunity to purchase a one-of-a-kind remnant from yesteryear, which underwent a sympathetic makeover a decade ago.

‘Mollison’ at 36 Furneaux Street retains some of the features of that time – including a restored washbasin used in his surgery which now adorns a bedroom.

Set in an English garden on a 1,350 square metre block, the Federation Arts and Crafts style home is listed in the register of significant 20th-century architecture.

Key heritage features include its tall chimneys, Marseilles-patterned terracotta roof tiles, rough-cast walling and informal window arrangements.

Statement of Significance

"The residence at 36 Furneaux Street is an example of significant architecture and an educational resource.

The house is a late example of a combination of three Federation Styles (Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts and Bungalow) and the Shingle Style of John Horbury Hunt.

The house design incorporates features which are peculiar to the styles including:

  • Federation Queen Anne Style with its Marseilles pattern terracotta roof tiles, prominent gable facing the street and tall chimney with terracotta pots;

  • Federation Arts and Crafts Style with its conspicuous roof, roughcast walling, tall chimney and informal window arrangement;

  • Federation Bungalow Style with its prominent gable verge and wall hung shingles, and

  • John Horbury Hunt's Shingle Style with its tall chimneys, shingle clad walls, steeply pitched roofs, awning like roof and informal window arrangement.

The architecture of this building may contribute to the education of designers in their understanding of both Federation and Shingle architectural styles which occurred mainly before 1915, given that authentic examples are rare in Canberra."

Keep Reading:

At www.federationhome.com:

Blog: A federation home renovation by an award-winning painter and an interior designer July 25, 2018

References