Meet the Owners of Annandale House by Welsh and Major

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Can you tell us a bit about your family and your background?

We are a family of four. We emigrated from South Africa to Australia twenty-five years ago and have since had two children – Indigo, who is eleven, and Guinness, who is eight. Our family has two working parents, energetic children and an active social life. Our days are busy and we wanted a house that could cope with this activity in a relaxed way.

Why did you decide to hire an architect?

We felt we had waited so long to own a home and we really wanted it to be something we loved. The existing house was a wooden cottage with a number of rooms that had been added over time, with little thought given to how the inhabitants of the house would actually live there. It was also a delicate site in terms of construction on both sides by our neighbours. We felt we needed experienced people who could help us get the most out of it. We also believe that good design affects the way you live and you should always put yourself on the path to beauty.

Annandale House by Welsh and Major.

Image: Michael Nicholson

How did you discover Welsh and Major Architects?

We searched Google for local award-winning architects who specialize in small projects. This led us to discover the work of Welsh and great architects.

How did you prepare for your first meeting with the architects? Did you research what you were looking for?

For a while we kept a scrapbook of images we liked and jotted down our thoughts on what we might want. The album helped shape our memory of the architect.

What was your brief?

We wanted something raw and relaxed, yet sophisticated. We didn’t want it to feel too precious and we wanted the spaces to be mutable and versatile. There is a little nod to our country of origin in the rawness of the design.

The builder is an integral part of a successful project. Were you involved a lot in the building process?

We were very lucky with our builder, SFN Constructions. The architects and builder also had a great working relationship, so even though we were in a project manager role, they solved a lot of things together without us. SFN brought a level of structure, discipline and expertise to the project. Building in the city center is always difficult, especially when you are right above your neighbors. Our site was tricky and they both worked well together (and with us) to address issues as they arose.

Annandale House by Welsh and Major.

Annandale House by Welsh and Major.

Image: Michael Nicholson

Is the result obtained by working with an architect what you expected?

It’s better than we expected. There are parts that we considered through all the talk of design and the way we live, but the architects added another level of thought and some nice surprises. The end result demonstrates that not only were they great designers, but they also really knew our family and how we wanted to live.

What advice would you give to someone considering hiring an architect?

We had a few false starts with other architects, but when it worked it came down to the architects design/aesthetics, their knowledge of the area, their experience working with a small house downtown- city ​​and their flexibility. The chemistry between architect and client is also important – it is essential that you understand each other and what you are trying to create without needing too much explanation. Finally, if both parties enjoy the process and what is created, you will get a better result. With Welsh and Major Architects, we felt they cared as much about our home as we did. Looking back, we really benefited from the fact that it was a small, growing firm – it felt like they were giving us more.

Would you hire an architect again?

Absolutely. Although we were happy to be done, it was hard to say goodbye to Welsh and Major Architects. We continue to threaten to find a new project so that we can dream and create together again!

Read the Annandale House review.

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