Australian architect Alexander Symes purchased his first house back in 2008. Finding it rather tired and in need of a lot of maintenance, he took the opportunity to carry out a radical renovation. The result is the Up-Cycle House, an attractive and unusual home that incorporates recycled materials and sustainable design.

Located in Blackheath, New South Wales, the Up-Cycle House has a total floorspace of around 104 sq m (1,119 sq ft), and includes three bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms. The interior furnishing is influenced by Scandinavian design and looks very clean and light, with a large open-plan area taking up a good portion of the home.

From the exterior, the path made from railway sleepers and, especially, the unusual brickwork, help lend the impression of a house that's still under construction – a theme also explored in the Cut Paw Paw house.

This is fitting really, as the renovation was a labor of love for Symes and took the architect, along with friends and family, until April this year to complete (presumably work was sporadic). Over the years, he taught himself bricklaying and experimented with alternative brick coursing techniques and other ideas.

The extra work really paid-off with eye-catching features like the home's entrance and "solar pergola," a solar panel-topped garden feature made from recycled bricks.

The use of recycled materials is extensive in this project. Mosaic floors were made from tiles collected from recycled building centers and sample showrooms, while the unusual glazing comes from samples and waste from other projects.

A sliding door was re-glazed with glass samples and had scrap hardwood added, while an internal glass door was repurposed from a large double glazing unit that was measured incorrectly on another project. The kitchen was handcrafted using timber flooring offcuts and a room divider was made from salvaged doors and a recycled timber Jenga set.

The extensive tiling helps keep internal spaces cool in the summer months and newly-installed under-floor and wall insulation helps retain the heat produced by the fancy reconditioned Norwegian Jotul fireplace in winter. In addition to the solar power array reducing grid-based electricity needs, a grey water system is due to be connected, too.

After almost a decade spent creating the home, Symes recently sold it for an undisclosed sum.

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