Friday, 5 March 2010

Queenslander house styles

Although we are not being pedantic with a true restoration, we are keen to make sure our renovations are sympathetic to the character of our house. We certainly don't want to live in a museum but nor do we want to ignore the fact we live in an older style home.

The local city council library has proven to be a good source of information about Queenslander house styles.

I recently found two really great documents which will be helpful when we eventually decide upon replacing the rotting front fence, window hoods and front and side stair cases.

1. Looking after the Queensland House, Brisbane City Council Heritage Unit, 1997 is a great little guide about caring for a traditional Queenslander home and how to plan for extensions and alterations to adapt it to a modern lifestyle.

It has one chapter dedicated to carpentry and joinery for Queenslanders built in the 19th Century, Pre WWI and Interwar era and it has illustrative diagrams for those who require visuals (like me!).

2. Brisbane House Styles 1880 to 1940: A guide to the affordable house by Judy Gale Rechner, Brisbane History Group, 1998.

I just love this guide and I believe it to be a must-read for any Queenslander house junkie or even renovating novice.

It is about the popular house styles which the majority of Brisbanites could afford at the time. It details the external characteristics of each house style and the architectural features which were used during the differing periods. Very interesting indeed.

From the National Library of Australia catalogue you can also access an online document called Designs of Dwellings, State Advances Corporation, 1935.  The State Advances Corporation was set up to assist applicants construct houses on their own land or government selected land with loans from the Government. This document has the example house designs and floor plans which were available during that particular era.

The Sow's Ear was built circa 1930s and is a double gable house with front verandah and enclosed side verandah, but I haven't found any other house which looks exactly like it in terms of external facade or even floor plan. Well, at least not yet. I can only guess that it is a hybrid of a few designs which were popular at the time.

The best thing about finding out this information is now I have documentary proof that the colonial finials, on each of our roof gables (there are nine), are historically inaccurate. The decorative phallic protrusions were already here when we bought the house and must have been added during a previous renovation. Approval for removal is pending with the Chief Renovator but I fear he has grown attached to them...

Really, someone ought to have done their homework before they colonialised this humble interwar Queenslander.

Please don't forget to enter my Marimekko giveaway. Your odds are very good!


  1. Hi Anita, very interesting! Do you think the stair rail may have originally been wooden and stepped in style as it is from the 30's? I admit I have a thing for the stepped wooden variety. As to poor old Arnie he continues to sit in my garden, he needs a repair to one arm, but I think he would look great at the nursery. The boys at bicycle revolution love him because he is made partly from bikes. And your name suggestion Arnie has definetly stuck, cheers Katherine

  2. Hey Katherine, I'm not definitely sure yet about the stairs - but I have a feeling it will be a bit humbler than that...I have to go to Brisban City Council Archives in Moorooka to see if there may be plans of the house or even aerial photographs of the street. I love that post about Arnie. You should put a sling on his arm - people would fall in love with the injured beast.

  3. I love how authentic you are determined to be in these renovations...surely the Chief Planner will give you brownie points and a gold star for diligence? Hope you have a lovely weekend planned in your happy home. Meredy xo.

  4. Wow, some great resources! I'll have to do some digging to find something similar on my house. It was built in the 20s/30s during the time of an affordable housing boom.

  5. thats a great idea!

    i never thought to do that while renovating my place. i just tried to keep it close in look and feel to what it appears.... a cottage.

    have a great weekend

  6. I would love a similar resource for my home. But maybe not. Then I would feel the pressure of obligation should the historical record conflict with intentions. But then . . . I don't want to look back and kick myself later.


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