An unexpected modern renovation hidden behind a heritage façade

prahran renovation heritage facade before and after jameshardie (1)
Carrara Construction Group


The house was pretty run down. The original verandah had been ripped out. Ceilings lowered with masonite. Rot. Everywhere. A minimal inside bathroom was paired with an outside toilet. And there was a ramshackle collection of run-down rooms to match. But when Chris Ericksen and his wife first set eyes on the dilapidated property in Melbourne’s inner-city Prahran, they knew that they could take the home from a pretty average ‘before,’ to an ‘after’ that would exceed even their expectations. 

The project spanned an upper storey addition, a complete interior remodel. The original (but repaired) timber block facade remained but everything else was replaced from the subfloor to the roof.

Chris and his building team, headed by his son Andrew at Carrara Construction Group, knew that the materials they chose would end up doing the heavy lifting. They needed a versatile exterior cladding that could pull off a modern look and allowed for light and space - with heritage constraints. The solution was made possible with James Hardie, by using Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding. This pre-textured fibre cement panel created a modern render style that is low-maintenance to stay looking good for years to come. Using this durable cement sheeting helped the Ericksen’s achieve what Chris summed up as a “perfectionist end product.”


A foundation based on family

The key to unlocking the potential of the Prahran house was balancing how best to preserve its existing roots and style, while giving it a more contemporary approach to space and light. 

The durable yet lightweight construction that delivered the liveability of the house wouldn’t have been possible with heavier materials, such as brick. Instead, Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding was the go-to, easily bridging the indoor and outdoor areas to create one cohesive space. 

Chris and his wife already had history with house conversions, having worked on a number of Victoria and Edwardian renovations, so they knew exactly what they wanted - and the materials they needed - for their end result. 

“In planning the exterior finishes, we maintained the period timber block frontage and weatherboards,” said Chris, “but for the new areas and upstairs we wanted modern products.”

The use of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding at the back of the house meant that the renovation didn’t overpower the existing style, and provided uncomplicated, clean lines with a modern render look. The team mixed the heritage facade with updated vertical cladding on the ground-floor extension, creating a compelling, contemporary look that paid homage to the house’s history.


A product made for renovations

Light and space were the key motivators behind Chris’ transformation of the Prahran home. Using Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding as their strong, yet lightweight construction material meant that they were able to successfully open up the back of the house and bring the outside in. This achieved their vision of a “great family living area with fully retractable sliding doors to take advantage of the north western rear garden.” 

In order to keep the space open, the team used Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding to surround the corner sliding cavity doors. They also installed a small cantilever that points to the strength of their lightweight techniques that hero innovative design. Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding diffuses light and adds warmth to the area, highlighting the bold features of the building’s form, such as the door and cantilever. 

The durable cladding also makes it a breeze for builders to install, especially when compared to brick. The stability of the cement sheeting meant that they were easily transported to the rear of the block; a feat that would’ve been far more difficult if there was masonry involved. The panels can then be fixed to timber or light gauge steel frames, and they arrive pre-sealed and ready to paint.

hardie_fine_texture_cladding_modern_renovation_prahran_VIC_jamesardie-scaled The interior has a decidedly modern feel, with Chris transforming the run-down rooms with modern, light-filled iterations. “We wanted the house to have four bedrooms (or three and a home office), upstairs bathroom and study area.

The team prioritised open-plan living at its finest; when you open the front door, the view cuts through to the middle of the home. The flexibility of the materials welcomed this innovative approach to space, allowing for light to flood in.

By adding on an upper storey addition, he was able to broaden the space to include more of his wishlist, while making the most of the area available to him. The modern upstairs addition, built in a sleek, contrasting box design, sits in contrast to the original timber block facade, and creates an incredible level of street appeal.


Supporting both design and the practicality 

Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding was used on this project as a thoughtful design choice that also has versatile practical benefits that can be applied to any renovation project. 

The cladding gives a textured rendered look, while being more low maintenance than a traditional concrete render, as it is created from a durable fibre cement panel. The strength of the material means that it is resistant to moisture, insects, rotting and warping and fire. 

For Chris and his wife, a house with great bones, in an incredible location, made choosing to undertake a renovation the right decision. They were able to transform the house from a neglected site to a family-first space with a modern addition that also highlighted the original style. This was made possible through their innovative use of materials specifically designed for renovations - breathing new life into a home that just needed the right owners. 

Looking to get your reno started? Check out Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding by James Hardie here.

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