Resolve Building Issues Before You Renovate

Ivanhoe House

Prevention is always better than cure! Identifying and resolving underlining building issues prior to decorating or renovating will save you time and money. So don’t jump into those renovations without checking out the health of your building first.  Interior Designer Amanda Richmond and Architect Andrew Fedorowicz from Balance Architecture + Interior Design say the things to look for are –

• Roofs & Walls out of alignment
• Ceiling discoloration suggesting roof leaks
• Damp patches
• Sudden leaks
• Bouncing floors
• Bulging, peeling plasterwork
• Unexplained cracking
• Persistent musky smell

Possible causes may be –
Blocked gutters, rising damp, defective internal plumbing fittings & fixtures, cracked roofing tiles, rusted gutters, inadequate internal box gutters, no roof overflow considerations, termite infestation, defective floor stumps/foundations, tree roots.

If you are a handy man or woman or have a handy man or woman friend or family member you can check out some of these issues fairly easily and resolve them.  However, most of these issues will require the services of a professional plumber or builder and, in the case of termites, a pest control company.  It is important to have any of these issues dealt with properly and resolved before you spend money on renovating or decorating your home as over time those problems will only get worse and ruin the effect of the renovations.

Imagine if you have just painted a room a lovely, fresh colour and the next thing you have a major leak from the ceiling down the walls or rising damp coming up the walls and ruining the paintwork?  It is just not worth the risk and heartache.  So please follow this wise advice from experienced, professional renovators Amanda Richmond and Andrew Fedorowicz and make sure you have a healthy building before you renovate!

Every Home Has A Story, Reveal It With An Expert Renovation

Renovation at Deepdene

Renovation at Deepdene

Every home has a story, as evidenced in the television program “Who’s Been Sleeping In My House”. In this series, aired on ABC, Archaeologist Adam Ford seeks to uncover the hidden stories of people’s houses across Australia, uncovering fascinating stories about the past residents and the past uses of the buildings. Sensitivity to the past history of a home, including the original architectural features and design sensibilities, is important to uncover the beauty, personality and charm of the house in which you live.

So when it comes time to renovate or remodel your heritage home, do it with great care and respect for the history and original design concepts of the building. Employing an Architect that is experienced at heritage renovations, knowledgeable and sensitive to the heritage overlays, council requirements and structural condition of your home will save you much time and angst and produce an end result that will resonate with the true history of your home. It’s just as important to call on the skills and experience of an Interior Designer that understands the historical elements and features of the building and designs interiors that are contemporary yet sympathetic to the past style and grace of your period home.

The team at Balance Architecture + Interior Design offer this level of experience, expertise and integrity for renovations, restorations or remodelling of period homes. Architect Andrew Fedorowicz is registered as an Associate Architect with The Royal Australian Institute of Architects (A.R.A.I.A.) and has been in private practice for 34 years specialising in heritage work. Interior Designer Amanda Richmond has a B.A. in Interior Design and worked as an administrator in her own private building company specialising in heritage renovations. She is Past President and Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia. Put your home in the hands of the experts.

Specialist Renovations For Heritage Homes

Blog 9 image 2

The renovation or remodelling of a heritage home is a specialist project. Owners want to maintain the integrity of the architectural style and unique period features, but also need to create a space suitable for modern living. Architect Andrew Fedorowicz (A.R.A.I.A.) and Interior Designer Amanda Richmond, of Balance Architecture + Interior Design are experts in heritage renovation.

Andrew Fedorowicz has been in private practice for 34 years specialising in heritage work and is vastly experienced in Architectural practice, from design to construction. With a strong eye for detail and a comprehensive understanding of structural engineering and associated disciplines Andrew has major experience in complex restorations. The recipient of major awards from both the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Housing Industry Association, Andrew works at the highest level of architectural excellence.

Amanda Richmond is a Past President and current fellow at the Design Institute of Australia through its Victorian chapter. She excels at creating an integrated, pleasing interior for heritage homes. Her award winning designs are contemporary yet sympathetic to the past style and grace of historical and period homes, creating elegant, liveable, stylish interiors that make a house a home.  With 18 years’ experience running her own building company specialising in heritage renovations, she is well versed in Architectural administration and Interior Design.

It is imperative to understand the finer points of an interior design that fully integrates with the heritage of a building. The team from Balance Architecture + Interior Designs can deliver on both the authenticity of the heritage style in their  renovations well as creating an interior that reflects the personality and style of the home owner.

Architects & Interior Designers Need To Get Your Brief Right!

Indoor pool area

Indoor pool area – Moonee Ponds House

When working with Architects and Interior Designers to renovate or remodel your home it’s important that the professionals you hire can get your brief right, or you may end up with a new-look house that does not fit your vision!  Andrew Fedorowicz, Architect and Amanda Richmond, Interior Designer of Balance Architecture + Interior Design have years of experience at renovations, particularly heritage buildings, so they are well versed on interpreting a client’s brief correctly.  A property in Moonee Ponds presented some interesting challenges, Andrew Fedorowicz explains how he resolved the problems presented, resulting in  very happy clients.
Challenge – social space for teenage children
The family who owned the house had teenage children who had social needs that the parents wished to accommodate within the home. They preferred their teenage children to bring their friends over to hang out, rather than seek their social activities elsewhere.
Solution – Andrew created an indoor pool (pictured above), gym and bar area with an external BBQ seating area leading off the pool space. There is a visual connection from the pool area to the existing kitchen, dining area and BBQ area.

Bar B Q area

BBQ & Alfresco Dining

Challenge – not enough car spaces
With the teenage children getting to the age where they had their own cars the family found there was not enough parking space with only a two car garage and limited off street parking.
Solution– Andrew constructed a new garage, which is long and narrow, allowing cars to jockey park with clear access on one side of the building, permitting parking movement.
Challenge – client not understanding the drawings
During the design stage of this project the client had difficulty reading and understanding the 2 D drawings presented.
Solution – 3D modelling on screen opened up the visuals for the client so they could understand the scale and orientation of the designed spaces.

Challenge – Internal swimming pool design must conform to AS safety standards – prohibited access
Solution – Self-locking door closures were installed on the doors leading into the pool. Also, a trafficable pool cover was installed by the pool company which is submerged under a perforated stainless steel plate below pool floor level. Mould is avoided by using a condenser, with a dedicated air supply vented via the plant room. Flooring materials used are smooth,non-slip, natural travertine.

Pool SS plate

Pool SS plate

Waterproofing A House When Renovating

Exposed brickwork reveals no damp proof course.

Exposed brickwork reveals no damp proof course.

When renovating, problems can sometimes be detected in the building that require addressing before the structural changes and beautification stage can begin.  One good example of this is a damp house. This is a serious problem as damp houses cause building defects, are unhealthy and can be costly to repair if the issue is not addressed promptly. Types of dampness are – Condensation/Horizontal/Falling & most commonly Rising damp.  Signs of dampness are surface stains, lifted surface finishes, efflorescence and fretting.

Award winning Architects and Designers Balance Architecture + Interior Design come across these tell-tale signs in some of the heritage houses they renovate or remodel.  The most common reason for a building to develop problems with damp is that there are changes to the conditions at the base of a wall that puts pressure on the damp proof course. An example of this would be a mortar mix that does not have enough waterproof compound mixed into it. Rising damp is where accumulating water works its way up the wall using capillary like action. The damp- proof courses that are installed during building are intended to block this action. Minor movements can cause cracking to the damp proof course, allowing water ingress and thus rising damp.

In one renovation Balance Architecture + Interior Design began work upon they discovered there was no damp proof course when the brickwork was exposed after the skirting board was removed. The accompanying picture clearly illustrates this.  To solve this problem holes were drilled into the mortar joint and a plastic syringe was installed. A product named ‘Silane-Siloane Based Impregnant’ was introduced into the syringes and left to drain slowly, saturating bricks and mortar joints. The product dries and solidifies creating an effective damp proof course.

For more information see SAA Masonry Code. AS3700. Balance Architecture + Interior Design call on damp proof experts Tech-Dry to help when faced with damp houses.

Interior Design techniques for varying the mood of a space

Kitchen Design by Amanda Richmond

Kitchen Design by Amanda Richmond

There are a variety of ways to create mood in a space. Scale, texture and pattern will always work but the primary way to achieve a definite mood change is through the manipulation of light. In an interior design created by Amanda Richmond of Balance Architecture + Interior Design the kitchen had a high vaulted ceiling, with a timber lining in a dark wood, these darker hues could risk visually shrinking the space. This issue has been avoided by the introduction of natural light through skylight windows located in a south facing roof line. Also, the decorative leadlight panel above the doorway allows colour to filter into what is a soft palette of pale greens and grey offset by crisp white joinery.
The primary material in this space is natural timber. It softens the look and adds warmth, both physically and visually. To extend the effect of natural materials the glass splashback colour is taken directly from the natural granite colours in bench tops.
Lighting is both practical and ambient with task lighting under overhead cupboards allowing clear, focussed light to be directed to the work area where it’s needed most. Pendant lights above the benchtop act to direct light towards both work space and eating areas. The range hood light, located within overhead cupboards, is switched separately. The appliance, when not filtering air, can also allow the kitchen to be softly lit creating another level of ambience.

Amanda Richmond is an experienced and highly creative Interior Designer and is in partnership with Andrew Fedorowicz, an Architect with over 32 years’ experience. Together they are Balance Architecture + Interior Design.

Light Is A Crucial Element of Good Interior Design

Bathroom designed by Balance Architecture + Interior Design

Bathroom designed by Balance Architecture + Interior Design

The quality of the light in a space is crucial to the success of the interior design. This exquisite bathroom design was created by Amanda Richmond of Balance Architecture + Interior Design, a Melbourne based business that specialises in an integrated approach to architectural structures and interior design. Light is reflected into the bathroom with the clever use of mirror placement. A large wall mounted mirror enables full length viewing with light being reflected back into the room via the adjacent window and a wall hung decorative mirror. To ensure the wall was able to carry the weight of the large full length mirror, extra stud work was installed within the wall prior to plastering.
A pleasing, clean line is carried through the space by using Carrara marble tiles to line the floor and continue up the wall to ceiling height within the shower space. The clean lines of the space are further maintained by concealing the toilet cistern within the wall; plumbing is accessed via a chrome wall mounted push plate. The vanity table becomes a feature of the bathroom and was custom made to allow asymmetric positioning within the space. Both the table and bath spouts are free standing and exit through the floor, with a power point being located at the other end of the table.

The ceiling to floor sheer curtaining addresses privacy issues at the same time as providing a romantic, softened finish to the room. More privacy is afforded through the use of a frame mounted block out blind. This bathroom design is a great example of the high quality, creative concepts the experienced, professional team at Balance Architecture + Interior Design deliver to transform your home.

Kitchen Period Interior Design Detail With a Twist

Kitchen Renovated by Balance

Kitchen Renovated by Balance

Contemporary interior design generally applies a minimal palette with a neutral base colour such as white with one or two accent colours; timber or contrasting black work well. In fact black was chosen as the accent colour against the neutral base colour of white in a recent kitchen renovation completed by Balance Architecture + Interior Design.  The image above of the kitchen renovation illustrates how well this colour palette works. Creating a mood in the space adds an ambient experience, this mood is able to be varied with the use of wall lights, pendants and down lights, all switched separately. Another lighting element in this design is the use of reflected light back into the space through the use of mirrors in both the splashback and within the plaster mouldings above.

The space becomes dynamic with shots of colour through the addition of floral arrangements, careful placement of fruit and table settings. All of which can be varied as mood and seasons change. A delightful element in this renovation is the use of sheer ceiling to floor curtains in the adjoining conservatory, which softens the edges of the space, contrasting against structural elements. The addition of an electrical blind system in the conservatory area allows the space to be further darkened or lightened with the use of a remote control.

The streamlined kitchen design is achieved by the use of some clever yet practical elements such as concealed ovens (two of them) and storage drawers beneath the island bench and down draft extraction systems located in the bench top, which avoids the need for an overhead range. This gorgeous renovation is another example of the sensitive, empathetic yet brilliant design work of the Balance Architecture + Interior Design team of Amanda Richmond and Andrew Fedorowicz.

Interior Design Period Ceiling Detailing

Decorative cornice in Victorian home

Decorative cornice in Victorian home

Amanda Richmond from Balance Architecture + Interior Design is a specialist in creating sympathetic interiors for heritage homes and fully appreciates and understands the design elements of these lovely, historic homes. When it comes to Victorian houses she informs us that the front rooms of a Victorian dwelling, regardless of size, were generally considered more formal than the rear of the house. Their ceilings boasted elaborate plaster detailing such as gutter cornices, ceiling roses and corbel arches. This plaster work was complemented by wallpaper which was applied to walls and ceilings, adding visual richness to the room; this included highly detailed cornice papers. Solid plastering, wallpaper hanging and master painting were all considered highly skilled and valued decorating trades.


When decorating an interior to resonate with the original design elements of a Victorian home extensive preparation work is required to ensure walls and ceilings are smooth, clear of defects and dust prior to hanging wallpaper or painting. Stunning decorative statements are made by reflecting the colours that are in the wallpaper body and frieze. In the image you can see how colours have been chosen for the cornice to reflect the colours in the frieze paper, with a special ‘surprise colour’ of turquoise found in the body of the frieze copied onto the leading edge of the plaster gutter. The turquoise lifts the other colours, drawing the eye to the cornice.


Balance Architecture + Design designed these colourways for a recent interior design project completed for a lovely Victorian home. Haymes paints were used and the colours chosen were ‘Beech Forest, ‘Turf green’ and Rubicon; the surprise colour was Blue Sapphire.

Times Change and Building Standards Change, Reflected in This Victorian Cottage Renovation

Victorian Cottage With Palms

Victorian Cottage With Palms

Times change and building standards change. Amanda Richmond of Balance Architecture & Interior Design remembers when she was a girl “My old Dad was a carpenter in the days where a building could be constructed on the basis of a handshake and the strength of his word. Dad always said, ‘Measure twice, cut once’, and, ‘Never assume anything’… that last one has held us in good stead on numerous occasions.” These days extensive documentation is required to renovate
or build; this protects the client, architect and builder alike.

Throughout the course of these blogs we will explain the process of building design, both architectural and interior design and take you through the challenges the different building sites throw up.

A recent project is the renovation of a Victorian cottage located in the gold fields of Victoria. The building sits in a formal front garden, the facade balanced by ancient palm trees either side of the entry path. Over time the building has been remodelled many times but the resulting interior spaces are now too restrictive for contemporary use. As the building is within an Heritage Overlay, modifications must comply to strict guidelines.

Balance Architecture & Interior Design have now completed concept design drawings and invited the local council’s Heritage Architect to inspect the site and comment on the design intentions.
Balance consider it important to collaborate with their clients, share ideas with Consultant Professionals and design within the guidelines to avoid both costly mistakes & lengthy delays for their clients.

The concept design drawings have been met with enthusiasm, Balance can now continue to the next stage of the project. Architect Andrew Fedorowicz  and Interior Designer Amanda Richmond both have immense experience and expertise in renovating and remodelling heritage listed buildings. They eagerly look forward to continuing this project.