A Workers Cottage Renovation in Sydney by CM Studio

This end-of-terrace house in Sydney dates back to the 1880’s and recently underwent a major renovation to create a cozy small home. Australian architecture firm CM Studio were responsible for the project, treading a fine line between maintaining its history and bringing it up to modern standards.


Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - Exterior - Humble Homes

Over the years the house has been occupied by many tenants, including staff from Victoria Barracks army base. However, more recently it had fallen into a state of disrepair, requiring substantial work to convert it into a comfortable home. The end result is an airy home, finished in grey marble and light wood.


Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - Hallway - Humble Homes

The house takes queues from minimalism without becoming clinical. An addition, in the form of a white-painted timber batten box, was built to extend the living spaces out into the rear garden. A large dormer was also included in the home’s loft, transforming it into a usable space.


Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - Kitchen and Dining Room - Humble Homes

Throughout the process, CM Studio were careful to weigh up the impact of the work on the house’s history: “The heritage aspect of the property was the single most important element that informed the redesign, ensuring a sympathetic approach to the heritage elements was maintained throughout the renovation.”

Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - Bedroom - Humble Homes

The three-storey home contains a 700 square foot (65 square meters) floor plan. To maximize space on each level, open plan design was employed with nooks and crannies being used to create plenty of storage space. The first floor contains the kitchen/dining area, living room, downstairs toilet and laundry room.

Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - Bathroom - Humble Homes

The kitchen/dining area features a seamless interface between garden, blurring the lines between inside and out. The second floor is home the the bedrooms and the bathroom. The bathroom, which is quite small, features a full-width double shower.

Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - First Floor Plan - Humble Homes

Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - Second Floor Plan - Humble Homes

Worker Cottage Renovation - CM Studio - Sydney - Third Floor Plan - Humble Homes

The third and final floor has been left up to the prospective owners to furnish. In it’s current form, it simply acts as a loft with storage flanking one wall, and a large dormer, looking out over the garden below, on the opposite. From the designers: “The assemblage of the spaces, and careful curation of pieces, along with the precise use of materiality ensure an inviting warmth is created.”

For more small houses, check out the ZEDpod, a prefab design aimed at taking advantage of parking lots. Or, this 7.5 foot wide stable turned tiny house in south London. See all small houses.

Via Dezeen
Photos: Caroline McCredie

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

  1. that is one beautiful home… I wouldn’t call it humble, as in fairly inexpensive, but simple… yes

  2. Would like to see some homes that meet Hurricane criteria for the Florida keys. Raised 8 to 15 feet and withstand 180 mph winds. All this at a low reasonable price any suggestions



  3. Bad joke, but can’t resist… obviously not an aborigine house as it’s all white.

    Ok, I’m running. I’m grinning. I’m ducking…

  4. Casual racism isn’t funny, it’s often used by a majority culture to further diminish others by then accusing the butt of the joke for not having a sense of humour and being too sensitive.
    Like you Paul, I also had to learn this lesson.

  5. BTW this property probably will sell for a couple of million…hardly a Humble Home

  6. Gum Manna… I understand where you are coming from… but… technically an aborigine is a native of the area.. as an example Somalians are aborigines of Somalia, Scots are aborigines of Scotland and so on.

    Often people with a poor sense of humour are the ones who complain the loudest. Many of the so called victims actually get the joke and see the humour. And in fact a HUGE number of Irish people tell (so called) racist jokes against themselves. Because they can see the funny side.

    As an example, and I get lots of laughs when I tell this… and it is a joke on me and my ancestry, “my grandmother was Scottish and my grandfather was Irish… which makes me confused coz part of me doesn’t want to spend the money and the other part is too thick to do anything about it.

    Finally, money is not necessarily a measure of whether a home is humble or not.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to respond Paul.
    I get your response and just to demonstrate I have a reasonable sense of humour…

    A white, Anglo-Saxon, male, who probably has a well paid white collar job as a result of his private education and who loves quoting to others “…some of my best friends are gay”,
    whose forefathers only 200 years ago, stole by bloody force the lands of Australian indigenous people (who’ve been here for between 60,000-120,000 years) by bloody force and now sensitively builds multi-million $ humble homes on it…
    walks into the room
    and dazzles eveyone with his use of passive aggressive language to rationalize and justify an entrenched position on –

    1. the acceptable use of, casual racism in humour
    2. redefining the meaning of “humble”

    Hope you enjoyed the joke Paul

    I highly recommend reading-
    Dark Emu, Black Seed by Bruce Pascoe

  8. You should learn to resist, Paul. There’s no reason the audience has to be subjected to the result of your weaknesses. Either keep it zipped or save those jokes for the company of others you are certain will find them funny.

  9. And BTW, your little explanation about aborigines (in the second post) was feeble. It had nothing to do with your original post, which you yourself admit required “grinning” and “ducking.” Telling a joke “against yourself” is one thing. Someone hearing that from someone else has to be sure what the teller’s intentions are. In most cases it’s murky, especially to the teller.

  10. Paul, I wish you all that you so clearly deserve. I am married to a man of African descent, originally from Haiti before immigrating to the USA. I am a platinum blonde caucasion and I assure you your humor is not funny. I despise racism in all its covert and overt forms, because I have seen the damage done.

  11. There’s a view of the build on Google Maps. 12 foot terrace, three bedrooms, minimal extensions, full use of the whole block, good job!

  12. Lovely house. Lord, it is so white. I tone it down with vines as best I could, though in Australia the local councils veto all kinds of out of the box proposals. This lovely house is small and modest by my standards though certainly not affordable by any normal middle class person like me. I wish I could understand the floor plan better — probably just my computer or my lack of understanding..

    I chuckle and am more than a little amused to see people go into little fecal tempests (read, SHIT STORMS) over ethnic, sexual, etc humor. I am a gay white man of almost 67, grew up in a little cotton town near Memphis where all kinds of things were “humorously” joked — or meanly said– about anyone that was NOT white, NOT affluent, other than heterosexual, NOT country club members, etc. I still enjoy humor of most types — as long as it is not hateful or mean spirited. But what is “hateful” and “mean spirited”, like “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t U think? Frankly, I don’t get my knickers in a knot about these little “humor” tempests because there are real major issues that I content with in 24/7. Try being live-in caregiver to an invalid parent with terrible health problems. That puts all this into perspective for me. If I am strange or different, then so be it ! Now, you-all can jump on me and tell me what a self-hating old ditz I am because I find many times of un-PC humor to be amusing. I don’t care. I have my livelihood and as my very Southern granny used to say “I don’t give a damn what U all think. U certainly don’t buy my cotton!”

    These comments are respectfully submitted.
    Stephan of Arkansas, USA

  13. Kristina, you, like unfortunately many people read far too much into what people say and twist their meanings. I’ve seen racism. I’ve been the victim of racism. Perhaps you should read, if you haven’t already, Stephan of Arkansas’s comments.

    For the record, yes I am white. Yes I am of Anglo Saxon heritage. No, I’ve never had a private education, public school education is just as good as any snob private school.

    I don’t have a job… medical issues have put paid to that. Previously I worked in lower to middling income bracket jobs.And none of my best friends are gay. However I do not dislike gays, just that none have been in the circles that I have, for want of a better expression, bumped into in my life and become friends. I’ve worked with numerous gays over the years and got on well with all but one. And that person was just a PITA to everyone.

    And also for the record my wife is Asian. And she thought the joke was funny and showed it to a friend of hers whose border is Australian Aborigine and he apparently laughed his head off over my little joke. Why? Because he, unlike some, has a Sense. Of. Humour.