Kinwolf homes

River Bennett (River Bennett Photography)




Tucked away in the green leafy streets of Balmain was a house on a 126 square meter block that had been untouched for over one hundred years. It boasted prime location with stunning views of the city, a peaceful, quiet neighbourhood and a quick walk to the famous yellow and green Sydney Ferries. 

It was house that stole the attention of three mates - Casey Scott, Matt Crocker and Scott Ligerwood who had recently started a Sydney based home renovations company called Kinwolf. Together they had decided to join their unique passion of home design, their skills for building, and the dream of doing life and business as a family. They took on the house in Short St. Balmain and radically invested heart and soul into bringing the bones of the old house back to life. 

Walking into the house you could feel the power of this collaboration between friends. 



Tell us about Kinwolf ...

Kinwolf is, at its core, just 3 best mates who want to do life together, in a manner that allows the business and love of home renovations (and new builds) to be something that gives us the opportunity to do life as family...

As much as it is a functioning business, we always want to prioritise family and friendship above a dollar... 

That said, we love design, and being creative. This is what we all have in common, and what has given us a kindred (KIN-wolf) vision to chase after our dreams of creating something beyond just four walls and a roof - a place that we would proudly call our own.

Casey had been renovating houses for years, where as Scott and I (Matt) had for a long time been wanting to try something that would involve architecture and design. Renovating and building is a tangible process, which is something so different to what we usually do (beating our heads against a wall, trying to write songs).  For quite some time, we had floated the idea of all going in together and trying our luck with renovating. So.... we bit the bullet and stepped out into territory that was new for all of us. Over beers and a handshake we decided to give it a go...


What was the story behind this house?

We had been looking for a month or so for what would be our first project together.

I had sent through this one house that we glanced over quickly and dismissed, thinking that it was too small. As we clocked over another 2 weeks without any success, Casey looked through older options in the list and decided to go have a closer look at the house on Short St. Casey has a particularly great eye for seeing the potential in a house.

He walked into a building that was close to untouched for a hundred years and was in desperate need of structural repair, but it had the makings of a house that could be amazing. Great location, amazing views, and a reasonable price guide. Casey rang up Scott and I and we decided to turn up to the auction with the intention of winning, for the right price of course.


When you design a home what are you wanting to achieve?

We learnt so much from this house about what our goals should be for future projects. Listening to feedback from potential buyers, having a house that looks incredible and has a certain wow factor is not the only box to tick. People are looking for houses for different reasons. Some are young professionals who need to be close to the city for work, some are families who need enough space to accommodate their families’ needs (storage being a huge requirement), or perhaps an older couple who are down-sizing and looking to buy in a location like Balmain, that has all you need with in walking distance, and a great lifestyle appeal.

We want to push ourselves creatively and build something that takes our own breath away every time we walk in the door, but we have learnt that there are some basic things that are required as well. Form and function need to coexist.... and sometimes people need a PowerPoint in the kitchen ... ha ...


What are three things every home design should have? 

Well, by no means are we the authority on design, but for us, we firstly wanted to exploit the abundance of natural light we had. Sunlight just makes everything better. I personally live in an un-renovated house built in the early 80’s that feels so dingy and leaves you craving natural light on a daily basis, so we were very aware throughout the design process of creating a habitat that is flooded with light throughout the day, directly and indirectly.

Secondly, we knew what rooms we needed in this house that were essential to a modern terrace in an area of Sydney like this. We needed 3 bedrooms (4 would be amazing if you have the space), a bathroom upstairs and downstairs (at least one with a bath), a kitchen that has enough storage, and a living space that connects the outside with the inside. These aren’t the absolutes, but if you can have these then you’re going to create something that is fundamentally, and foundationally appealing.

And the third thing every home design should have (in my humble opinion) is beauty... these days a home is not just a shelter. People want to escape the day of work they just had, or wake up feeling like they are energised for whatever they are about to take on. 

Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so what I think is beautiful might not be what someone else would agree with, but for the majority of people, having a home that is inspiring would involve clean air, sunlight, and a morning coffee on your favourite chair to soak it all in from.


What are some of the things you learned on this build?

The list of things we have learnt is very long. Ha... But there are a few things we would keep in mind for future projects. 

Our main problem is that we were so emotionally attached to this house. Mostly because it’s our first one, so we wanted it to be everything and more. As much as we wanted the house to be pushing the boundaries, and be aesthetically amazing, it needs to be feasible. So finding the balance of where and what to spend the money on is now something we will look at more closely prior to commencing the build. You can save a lot of money on the build by being diligent with quotes and pricings pre-build. We went back and looked through the builder’s quote after we had started the build and found that we had been quoted on things that we actually weren’t doing or needing anymore. Which to be fair was our own fault because we changed part of the design... we no longer needed scaffolding, which was costing us a lot of money. Easy to miss if you have 50 things on the go all at the same time. Luckily the builder was a gentleman about it and took the price out of the quote.

Another lesson learnt was to celebrate the wins. There can be a lot of stress and disappointment involved in a build, things like bills, or mistakes made when the design has failed to take something unavoidable into account, or being knocked back by council time and time again... it doesn’t take long for the joy and excitement to be completely taken out of the process, but like a roller coaster, it’s up and down, so it also doesn’t take much for you to be excited about the project. It’s a slow ride when you’re there day in, day out, seeing only minor changes. You’ve got to keep your eyes on the end goal, and keep reminding yourself there’s light at the end of the tunnel.


What part of the house are you most proud of? 

We love it all!! It’s our baby... ha!! I’m sure we would all have our own opinions on what is the best part of the house, but I think all 3 of us would agree on the Woodform that clads the exterior and wraps around the inside of the house. There’s a skylight that goes from side to side of the house allowing you to see up to where the Woodform connects from outside to in. It’s pretty cool. And the light that pours in through that skylight is amazing. It changes throughout the day and creates these amazing lines of light on the wall.


What’s next for Kinwolf?? 

Well, we are always looking for another hidden gem that we can sink our teeth into, so currently looking around. We love Balmain, and want to keep our feet there as much as possible, but we are also looking at what other areas have to offer.

We are also working with people who have approached us about renovating their own houses. This was never even a thought, so it was quite left field for us, but an opportunity we are absolutely loving.



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