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See the light with a heritage extension

So you’ve bought your dream heritage house but want to create more space or add value? A home extension can provide the perfect solution. By using smart cladding choices, you can achieve a light-filled extension that hits the mark for modern feel and functionality while enhancing your home’s original aesthetic.

Here, BuildHer Collective founder Rebeka Morgan shares how to achieve an extension that’s flooded with natural light, while interior designer Alison Lewis reveals how she fused a modern extension with her heritage Melbourne home. Topics explored include:

  • The use of textures in exterior cladding for visual appeal

  • Creating connections between old and new

  • Leveraging cladding to enable large windows

  • Paint colour selection

How to add value with a modern extension

When Alison and her husband first bought their 1930s California bungalow, Hartley House, in inner-city Northcote, many of its period features had been lost. Alison saw an opportunity to reinstate some of the home’s original charm while adding an extension to increase the property value.

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“The house had had a cosmetic renovation just prior to when we bought it, but I knew there was huge potential to make it into a family home that would really appeal to future buyers,” says Alison.

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Her vision, she explains, was for the extension to complement the original home while capturing her preference for tonal textures.

“I love using tonal colours and textures to create interest,” says Alison.

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“The interiors of our house are quite textured, so I wanted a textured exterior to form a beautiful, cohesive complement. As soon as I saw Hardie™ Brushed Concrete Cladding, I knew it was perfect for the look I had in mind.”

Unifying heritage and modern through a mixed-material approach

When it comes to adding a modern extension to a heritage house, Rebeka Morgan recommends steering away from attempts to mimic the original style. Instead, opt for a mixed-material design that will create contrast and visual impact.

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“When you’re looking to put a modern extension onto an original home, you want to have a juxtaposition of materials. Done correctly, this highlights the contemporary addition, but also pays homage to the heritage,” explains Rebeka

Alison has done this with Hartley House by using textured cladding on the extension, delivering contrast along with the flexibility to add large windows to the new section.

“The front of the house is original weatherboard and then it transitions into this lovely textured Hardie™ Brushed Concrete Cladding,” she says.

For even greater cohesion between the two sections, Alison chose to paint the whole house the same colour – Haymes Baked Clay in a low-sheen finish.

“I chose a warm grey and, at different times of the day, the shadow and light really play on the texture, which brings it all together.”

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Rebeka says lighter colours tend to accentuate the texture of the material, which works particularly well with heritage homes.

How to choose the right cladding for your project

Before deciding what material will best suit your home renovation, there are a number of factors to weigh up.

According to Rebeka, these include:

  1. The landscape in which your home is located – is it coastal, rural or urban? These factors will impact the aesthetics and buildability of your extension

  2. How the material will stand up to the location’s specific environmental conditions, such as sea spray, flooding, or extreme cold or heat

  3. The cost-effectiveness, speed and ease with which it can be built

Exterior cladding is faster to build with than other materials, which means shorter, more cost-effective build times. Builders are really comfortable with using cladding products, as they are easy to install,” says Rebeka.

Also, fibre cement cladding is extremely durable, so it provides more flexibility when it comes to adding large openings in the structure for windows or doorways.

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“One issue that you have with brickwork is that large openings need big steel lintels, but with Hardie™ Brushed Concrete Cladding you can create the same space without the need for a large substructure,” says Rebeka.


This was another reason Alison opted for cladding instead of brick in her extension – it meant they were easily able to install a “wall of glass”, delivering ample natural light to the interior.

Hardie™ Brushed Concrete Cladding is also a great performer at ground level – it’s rot-resistant, it’s got stability, so it provides a solution that has been hard to achieve with other materials,” explains Rebeka.

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“Visually, it has a beautiful movement that changes with the light throughout the day, adding an element of drama and sophistication that enhances the home’s appeal.”

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Alison used Hardie™ Brushed Concrete Cladding for the entire extension, coupled with some timber battens for extra warmth and contrast, and powder-coated aluminium window frames.


“And because the cladding is really hardy, I know it’s going to stand the test of time and that gives me peace of mind,” she says.

Alison’s top tips for colour selection:

  1. Use the same colour across the original house and the extension to create a sense of cohesion.

  2. When choosing a paint colour, consider how it looks at various times of the day by doing brush-outs in various locations across the house.

  3. Test a few different colours before settling on one. Alison chose Haymes Baked Clay because it looked nice consistently around the entire house.

  4. Don’t be afraid to paint walls and architraves the same colour – just change the finish. “I like a low sheen on walls and a gloss around windows. The gloss naturally looks a bit darker than the low sheen,” says Alison.

For more tips and inspiration, explore the Hardie™ Architectural Collection interactive magazine here.

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Discover the endless design possibilities of our new curated cladding collection. Everything you need to know, available in our NEW interactive magazine, from dream home inspiration to real-life case studies, top tips from industry experts and distinctive cladding combinations.

Final Cover | Make Modern with Hardie Architectural Collection Interactive Magazine

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