Top 7 Tips for Giving Your Queenslander a Modern Makeover [Updated Nov 2023]

Top 7 Tips for Giving Your Queenslander a Modern Makeover [Updated Nov 2023]

Renovations, Tips and Advice

If you are lucky enough to own a piece of classic Queenslander architecture, you may be considering a giving your classic home a modern update by treating it to a renovation.

Queenslanders are beautiful homes. We love their unique design and their ability to give Brisbane locals throwback to their childhood.

These days, one would be hard pressed these days to find a Queenslander in Brisbane that hasn’t been renovated. The sad reality though is that most of those updates haven’t helped these classic homes reach their full potential. If you’re considering modernising your stunning slice of history, you can’t afford to miss my top seven tips for giving Queenslander architecture a modern makeover.

1. Improve the comfort level within the home

Queenslander architecture did not excel in insulation. Hot in summer and cold in winter, Queenslanders are far from the most comfortable homes to live in. Sure, on really hot summer days an unrenovated Queenslander offers a cool retreat under the house itself, but inside the home it can feel like an oven.

Queenslanders are typically built high enough to get in the path of the prevailing breezes but small windows and lots of internal walls tend to limit the amount of cross-ventilation you actually achieve. Add to that the gaps in the walls, floors and around windows, and you can see why they’re not great in winter either.

So to start with, it’s important to seal any leaks. Most Queenslanders are straight VJs without any lining and therefore prone to having gaps. Sealing these gaps and lining the insides of the walls can help improve the internal insulation of the home.

2. Transform verandahs into living space

Queenslander homes were designed to take advantage of outdoor living (and with Brisbane’s fantastic weather, why wouldn’t you?), but on the flipside – that means many of these homes have limited internal space with only a handful of rooms, and lots of internal walls.

By enclosing some of your Queenslander’s characteristic deep, wide verandahs – you can create wonderful indoor/outdoor spaces to relax in and entertain in. Line the ceilings of these verandahs, add ceiling fans, and perhaps an outdoor kitchen, and you will immediately transform the practicality and appearance of the home. Louvres and shutters can blend in seamlessly with the look of the home while giving you greater control over the elements.

3. Redesign the interior

As mentioned, Queenslanders are often very small internally – with a limited number of rooms. Building in underneath the home can double the amount of internal space available, while removing some internal walls can also help open up the home and create more usable space. Keep in mind that some of the walls will be structural and removing any load-bearing walls can be an expensive exercise. However, other internal walls will be able to be removed or remodelled with little fuss. Sliding or bi-folding doors can then be used to give you options in regard to your interior spaces.

4. Let the light shine in your Queenslander architecture

Queenslanders are often very dark homes, partly due to their wrap-around verandahs, but also because the double-hung or casement windows tend to be very small. I’m not suggesting that you do away with all the windows, as one needs to be careful to retain the natural charm of the property and preserve the classic Queenslander styling, but adding the odd bank of louvred windows or larger format of window can assist in improving the natural lighting – which in turn can also lower your power consumption.

5. Increase storage

Unrenovated Queenslanders do not offer their occupants much storage. Bedrooms were not traditionally designed with built-in robes, so in the past a lot of families would use their enclosed sleep-outs to store items. Using an experienced architect can help you create more storage spaces not only within the bedrooms, but also for linen, cleaning goods, and in the kitchen.

6. Renovate the kitchen

You might like the original charm of a wood stove, but do you really want to be burning wood to cook your meals every night? Besides, chances are your kitchen has already had some form of a renovation that will have added some more modern appliances – but has it gone far enough?

Most Queenslanders that I’ve renovated have benefited greatly from having a kitchen overhaul and/or relocation – a small(ish) change which immediately transforms the functionality and liveability of the home!

7. Add an ensuite

A lot of Queenslander homes were only ever designed with a single upstairs bathroom. If it hasn’t been added already, then you will likely want us to incorporate an ensuite into your home. Alternatively, if one has been added in a previous renovation, you might still want us to give it an overhaul to improve the size and usability of that space.

Queenslanders are beautiful homes, but the classic Queenslander architecture didn’t allow for ease of living. However, with the right renovation design, this style of home can combine beauty and practicality in a way that few other properties can.

Want to make your mark on Queenslander architecture?

Be part of Brisbane’s architectural history by restoring and modernising a classic Queenslander. As expert architects with many years of experience renovating these beautiful homes, we are your perfect reno design partners. Our team is familiar with the regulations, intricacies and building design of these old gems and can help you remodel your home to suit your lifestyle, all the while staying true to the hallmarks of the classic Queenslander style.

If you’re thinking of modernising a traditional Queenslander home but are unsure of where to start, we have a few service options available at dion seminara architecture which may help!

  1. Ask The Architect – Got a question about our design services? Call one of our architectural team members, and have a chat to us about your project. If you have any questions about our services, or find yourself looking for more information about what dion seminara architecture can offer you, we would love to hear from you!
  2.  Design Advice Service – If you would like specific feedback concerning your project, you will benefit from booking one of our Design Advice Services. A medical professional wouldn’t perform an operation on a patient without a proper diagnosis; this Design Advice Service works in the same way. During a 2-3 hour in-person consultation, we will help you analyse and consider design solutions to cater for current and future lifestyle choices.
  3. Pre-purchase Advice Service– If you are still looking into purchasing a property our Pre-Purchase Design Advice consultations provide you with an insight into whether the house or land you are considering to purchase is the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

We are experts in Queenslander renovations

Although most Queenslanders were built during the 1920s and 1930s, a sensitive approach can see them brought into the 21st century with dignity. By following our top seven tips for giving Queenslander architecture a modern makeover, you can preserve the much-loved characteristics of your charming home while making it work for you and your family, now and into the future.

Contact us today and let’s talk about your options.

Dion Seminara Architect


We are experts at home design, renovations and new homes and ensure good value for money outcomes.

Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 30 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.