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A Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation Plays with Function and Duality

A Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation Plays with Function and Duality

Complete with clever storage ideas and flexible design

Written by –
Jess Ng
on July 8th 2018
Born and raised in the UK, Jess is NONAGON’s resident historian turned marketer turned writer, drawn to Hong Kong by the lure of dim sum breakfasts and bustling city life. A foodie who loves to cook, food occupies 70% of her brain 90% of the time. When not eating, Jess can typically be found buried in a book or obsessing over making NONAGON’s Instagram #feedgoals.

2 in 1 House


When it comes to designing a forever home for a family with two young children, you can guarantee that storage is going to be of top priority. But what if the space you have to work with is a compact intimate lot rather than a generous acreage of land? This is exactly the conundrum faced by Nest Architects when dreaming up the 2 in 1 House. Keep reading to find out what they did to overcome it.

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Brick and timber wood clad exterior and patio of a sustainable family home |

“Although the existing dwelling presented many spatial and structural challenges, the outcome demonstrates the capacity for small spaces to morph into a functioning, generous home.” – Nest Architects

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Open plan kitchen and dining room with exposed brick wall, dark cabinets and wood accents |
image source

A Home with History

The 2 in 1 House started life as an existing heritage building with many structural issues. Bad moisture retention in the ground meant that most of the existing stumps were rotting. What’s more, many of the walls were badly misaligned. Unfortunately, these issues were not uncovered until after construction. By this point, renovation work was already well under way and had to be dealt with so as not to cause major delays on site.

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Bright family living room with floor to ceiling wood shelf divider and timber floors |


One of the key considerations for this home was storage. As the site was so small, a lot of the functionality of this home is embedded into the in-built joinery. The joinery in the study, for instance, doubles as a guest and day bed. Meanwhile in the family living quarters, floor to ceiling storage units double as a way to divide the open plan space.

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Family living room with gray sofa, wood accents and floor to ceiling bookshelves |

A Lesson in Duality

Stephanie Kitingan, the lead designer of this project, shares that one of the key takeaways from this project was ‘the notion that space and functionality are not mutually exclusive’. Spaces can perform dual functions at separate times. Case in point, the girls’ shared bedroom comes complete with a large timber veneered sliding door. This enables the room to function as both the shared bonding space needed during their younger years, and the individual private space required as the girls grow older.

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Minimalist bedroom with sloped ceiling and wood accents |

“Clearly defined areas have been designed to be fluid, each cavity slider disappearing to create open space and movement yet providing the option of closing each room to privacy – when solitude from the pack is necessary.” – Nest Architects

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Urban industrial kitchen with dark cabinetry, wood accents and exposed brick wall |


Along with storage, sustainability was an important part of the design brief. The owners of the 2 in 1 House are advocates for green living. Their vision of a dream home was one of scrupulous sustainability on a minimal budget.

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Urban industrial kitchen with dark cabinetry and wood accents |

Existing pavers were reused in the new landscaping works and recycled brick used for the external walls. The 2 in 1 House also boasts the addition of solar power, while all the fixtures and fittings were sourced second hand. Honest materials, such as exposed brick and concrete, were the order of the day, lending the home an urban industrial look.

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Urban industrial kitchen with Danpalon cladding and sliding doors leading to outdoor patio |


Sticking with the sustainable theme, outside you can see the use of Danpalon cladding at the top of the home. The cladding dapples filtered light through the rear addition, allowing sun rays to heat the burnished concrete floor. This helps to increase the thermal capacity of the space without the use of heating.

Sustainable Heritage Home Renovation: Exterior facade of a sustainable family home with patio and Danpalon cladding |

Final Thoughts

Overall, this modest heritage home tackles all the key issues of modern home design head on, and to stunning effect. On the sustainability front, summarizing the 2 in 1 House becomes a case of what doesn’t it have. A listing of every green design aspect would make for another story in itself! As if that wasn’t enough, the home’s clever storage and flexible design proves that small space family living can work. All it takes is a little creative thinking.

Want to see more home tours? Head on over to our ‘Home Tours’ page! Recent favorites include this dreamy Sonoma County rustic retreat and this tropical desert villa.


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