You’ll never guess what lies behind this simple black timber facade



a large lawn in front of a house: MailOnline logo


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Designers have transformed a 1950s brick cottage into a unique oriental retreat fronted by an unassuming façade on a quiet Canberra street.

Redeveloped in collaboration between construction firm MegaFlora and designer Blake O’Neill, the one-of-a-kind two-storey at 28 Mackennal Street in Lyneham, in the capital’s leafy north, was inspired by the owners’ love of Japanese interiors which are simple but always of the highest quality craftsmanship.

Built from recycled materials sourced across New South Wales and the ACT, the four-bedroom house – which took three years to complete – has sustainability etched into every corner.

The outdoor entertainment deck is made out of timber salvaged from an old basketball court at the Australian Institute of Sport, while a whopping 680 metres of repurposed hardwood battens run along the ceiling alone.

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a large lawn in front of a house with Glass House in the background: The redesigned 1950s cottage at 28 Mackennal Street in Canberra, which has been transformed into a unique four-bed home


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The redesigned 1950s cottage at 28 Mackennal Street in Canberra, which has been transformed into a unique four-bed home

Spacious living areas with towering ceilings and a north-facing kitchen which opens onto the terrace are spread over 292 square metres, along with a master bedroom complete with a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite with two showers.

‘The open plan design of the master bedroom and ensuite makes it feel generous but the use of darker colours and a high level window which captures the street trees helps to create a sense of intimacy and privacy,’ designer Blake O’Neill told Daily Mail Australia.

A wooden bathtub clad in recycled Tasmanian oak is the centre-piece of the master bathroom which is flooded with natural light and covered in handmade floor-to-ceiling finger tiles – a traditional interior trend in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.  

Other custom features include a steel frame encasing the brick fireplace and an enormous origami lamp, perhaps the most literal example of Japanese influence.

Natural materials were used wherever possible to bring a sense of the outdoors inside the home, Mr O’Neill revealed.

‘The theme revolves heavily around showcasing craftsmanship and drawing on elements of Japanese design like quality and the use of natural materials to create a home that is highly detailed and considered,’ he said.

‘Light, a sense of space and connectiveness to the outdoors also feature heavily.’

Outside, the landscaped garden is watered by a ‘smart’ irrigation system which can be controlled remotely from a phone app.

There’s also a roller door garage with parking space for four cars and a standalone studio attached to the main part of the house which could be used as a home office, rumpus room or guest suite.

So unique is the design that the property has been shortlisted for the 2020 Master Builders Association Housing Awards, which take place in November.

The house was originally listed for sale with McGrath realtors when the owners planned to up sticks and travel around Australia in a campervan with their young daughter.

COVID slammed the brakes on that idea, but the couple decided to temporarily relocate to the South Coast before taking on their next design project which may well be their ‘forever home’.

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