Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Mighty Maisonette

Adelaide has had a long-term love affair with the mighty semi-detached maisonette. Along with row cottages, the maisonette ruled supreme with builders between 1836-1925. It became the compromise build between a row cottage & a free-standing house & often families lived in one side & rented out the other for economic gain. Each side was a mirror image of other & always shared a common parapet party wall. For economy of scale they often shared other features such as a continous front verandah (often eye-lash or bull-nose corrugated iron in design) with the traditional tesselated tile floor. Squeezed onto a single allotment, space was tight & the majority of them were built to the boundary fence, with just a small rear access running off a back lane for wood deliveries & the ubiquitious night cart man.

Most were constructed with sandstone or bluestone facades with brick side walls, the standard internal design was 3-4 rooms all running off the side passageway. The front room was generally the sitting room, followed by either one or two bedrooms then a kitchen. The bathroom, laundry & loo were housed in a corrugated iron lean-to either attached or detached leading off the back verandah. Again for economic reasons those rooms sat along a party wall with the adjoining maisonette, so they could share the one set of plumbing connections. Generally a row of them were built in the same street which meant that the gutters of each adjoining house nearly touched, really restricting the flow of natural light & ventilation through the side windows. For those of us who have experienced life in an unrenovated Adelaide maisonette, even with a largish window, you'll know that those 2nd & 3rd rooms were black holes of unrelenting darkness.

My how things have changed, just look at this renovated maisonette in St. Peters, a lovely leafy suburb just 5 minutes drive from the Adelaide CBD. Sadly a number of the internal period features are no longer - the original ceilings, cornices & fireplaces have disappeared, but I think it's a pretty schmicko reno job all the same.

I've had another good but very tiring week at work, with not a smidgy of blogging happening. That will be fixed later today. We celebrated our largest single order of the year yesterday arvo, so the 2 of us were doing the Happy Dance around the office. The boss surprised me by ordering a very ritzy coffee machine for our little 2 roomed, 2 person office, so I take that as an indication that I'm doing OK & he might want me to stay. It's the weekend dear Hedgies, so go enjoy!
Images: Klemich



  1. How gorgeous is that home Mill's .... I could live there quite easily !
    .....and to be given your own state of the art coffee machine is a stamp of approval I think.
    Good on's lovely to hear that the job is going well.
    Enjoy the weekend and put your feet up. XXXX

  2. loving loving loving all of this ...just a delight :) le xox

  3. Oooh I could live there! We had a terrace in Sydney once so I know the lack of light well!!!
    Wow a new coffee machine and your largest are on your way my girl!!!!!! xx

  4. My very first house purchase was a maisonette in Kingswood, Adelaide, so I have a soft spot for these treasures. It was built just after the first world war, so it had larger windows than so many of the earlier ones. (I rented an 1840s bluestone version in Parkside while I was at uni so I well remember the dark rooms you are talking about!)

    This renovation is delightful. Bright and light - very family liveable. Love what they have done to the back garden area. A little suntrap.

    Conrats on your order - and your happiness justifies the switch of jobs. Enjoy this autumn sunday (well it is here, at any rate.) xx

  5. Such a beautiful home.... loving the facade. Congrats on becoming a 'nana-to-be'..... little girls are beautiful X

  6. Beautiful, serene decoration. I could totally live there !

  7. Millie yes really lovely remodel! Yes Congrats I am so excited for you!

    I am featuring Designer and Paper Artist Anita Rivera from Castle Crowns and Cottages on my site! She is so amazing!

    Art by Karena

  8. Fascinating history - and what a fabulous, bright and airy modern interpretation! It reminds me of good old British Victorian terrace, where everyone now ends up filling in their disused 'side-return' with modern glass extensions - creating brightly lit, modern homes from what were once dark and dingy alleyways. You tell a story VERY well. Good luck with work - all sounds positive! x


And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

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