Lighten up your home without loosing privacy


How to open an old, dark house to the light, while simultaneously maintaining privacy for occupants, is a question not always happily or successfully answered.

Cruise down any suburban street in Sydney and chances are you’ll see a lot of unhappy, unsuccessful responses: window or door openings where maybe there shouldn’t be, and no openings where potentially there could be – privacy presumably compromised, views presumably not viewable, light not optimized. All indicating inadequate consideration and solutions to the question at hand. Fortunately, the successful renovation of a previously very dark semi with privacy issues in Sydney’s eastern suburbs offers a thoughtful, beautiful response to this all too common issue.

Pip Marston and Matt Argent of Marston Architects say the owners, a professional couple with two dogs, essentially wanted to “find the light”, having lived in a sunlight-starved, south-facing semi for several years. The house should be low maintenance, with an urban look and feel. And, they wanted to stay put during renovations, negating any major physical upheaval or additional financial strain.

The house itself was a single-storey Federation semi suffering the usual issues: with no northern light, it was dark and gloomy, and cold in winter. The layout was fairly standard – two bedrooms at the front, living space in the middle and add-ons at the rear. Sitting above ground level at the back, the house failed to connect to a long, underused rear garden. And, importantly, privacy was a problem, with the rear garden overlooked by neighbours to the east, north and south.

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