This California Bungalow Combines the Traditional and the Modern


Longueville House, nestled in a leafy residential suburb of Sydney, has undergone a spectacular renovation. The façade stays true to its original California bungalow heritage with the restoration providing a modern and functional living space for today.

A street view of the home masks the old from the new with extensions at the rear of the house completely hidden from view. The additions were designed to open the house to the garden, the pool, and the pristine views over the valley which was achieved to great success.


The front verandah, typical of California bungalows, is repeated at the rear of the house, with a back verandah creating a shady haven overlooking the pool and luscious landscaped garden.

The generous size of the verandah, along with a built-in barbeque, acts as an extension of the home to the garden. This creates even more living space and greater opportunity to take advantage of the striking verdant scenery.

The backyard faces south so an inclined roof and clerestory windows were incorporated to allow an abundance of natural light from the north west to flow into the home.

The open concept kitchen, with its stunning oversized granite island, creates a fluid living space to the dining area. The west facing living room incorporates meticulously placed openings with timber screens to protect from the direct sun.

These have been so effective that the clients revealed that they rarely use the air-conditioning during the hot Australian summer months.

A fireplace is built into the exposed brick for cooler winter nights.


The clients brief indicated that they wanted the additions to still evoke the feeling of a single storey home. The significant slope on the land allowed for the new living areas to be spread across two levels, while maintaining a single storey appearance

We chatted with Vanessa Wegner of Vanessa Wegner Architect to find out more about the project.

What midcentury influences did you want to include?

“Along with the mid century architects such as Richard Neutra I would like the building to be timeless and not a “fashion”.  The existing house is definitely a Californian bungalow however the new extension was designed to be open and relate to the site with large timber framed windows within solid brick walls.  The cedar ceiling runs from the lower height living room through to the large outdoor verandah. This detail along with the planning of the new areas is similar to midcentury architecture.”

What do you think was so special about this period in American design?

“Midcentury design involved a rediscovery of nature and connection to the site.  It is a combination of architectural minimalism and organic modernism.  Simple planning, rich materials and beautiful detailing.”


What in your opinion are the best features of the home?

The connection to the site and the control of the light within the home.  Also the thermal performance.

Last but not least, do you have any tips for people interested in buying a midcentury house or building a new home with midcentury design elements? What should they pay attention to and why?

“Buying a midcentury house is a fantastic opportunity.  I recently almost bought one designed by Bruce Rickard in Australia.  The bedrooms tend to be a bit smaller than the contemporary home.  Look at getting in an architect or designer that can work well with the original house to enhance the features and understand the detailing.  Integrating joinery is an important feature of a midcentury home.  Warm and tactile materials such as brick, timber and concrete are a fantastic palate for a midcentury home if you are looking at designing a new home.”


The meticulous attention to detail and design demonstrates how preserving the original style and seamlessly integrating the old with the new can create an open and airy space that is equally warm and inviting for many years to come.


Photos by Katherine Lu