Party Of Two

Down­siz­ing and up­dat­ing with the help of an ar­chi­tect al­lowed this Mel­bourne cou­ple to tran­si­tion hap­pily to a fab, func­tional ur­ban nest.

Australian House & Garden - - News - STORY Laura Barry | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Sharyn Cairns

Down­siz­ers bring a tired Mel­bourne Fed­er­a­tion home into the light of the 21st cen­tury.

With their two adult chil­dren now set­tled in their own places, down­siz­ing from a large fourbed­room fam­ily home in the sub­urbs was an easy de­ci­sion for the own­ers of this three-bed­room Fed­er­a­tion home in Mel­bourne’s Fitzroy North. Aside from its handy, cen­tral lo­ca­tion, they were also af­ter some­thing more man­age­able.

“We loved the red-brick bay win­dows, pressed-metal ceil­ings and orig­i­nal floor­boards in the hall­way,” says the owner. “But the bath­room and kitchen had seen bet­ter days and we wanted more nat­u­ral light, a mod­ern kitchen and a cosier living area .” Their son rec­om­mended lo­cal ar­chi­tect St­ef­fen Welsch, who shared their pas­sion for en­ergy-ef­fi­cient homes and sus­tain­able ma­te­ri­als.

“As it was, the house sim­ply wasn’t com­fort­able to live in,” says St­ef­fen. “The ori­en­ta­tion was all wrong and the back part of the build­ing had fallen into dis­re­pair.”

The main chal­lenges were draw­ing more nat­u­ral light into the south-fac­ing rear of the home, and the rather com­pact foot­print over­all. St­ef­fen’s so­lu­tion was to ex­tend the struc­ture and re­ori­ent the lay­out, wrap­ping the kitchen, din­ing and living zones around a cen­tral court­yard. “We had to pack lots of func­tion into a small space, so the join­ery was di­men­sioned very care­fully,” says St­ef­fen. “Ev­ery lit­tle thing, in­clud­ing the dis­tance be­tween the kitchen bench and the slid­ing door to the court­yard, had to be mea­sured so two peo­ple could stand to­gether with­out feel­ing cramped.” In ad­di­tion, the roofline at the rear of the orig­i­nal part of the house was raised and an­gled to max­imise the north­ern sun.

“St­ef­fen brought us the idea of cre­at­ing an in­ter­nal court­yard and we were in­stantly sold,” says the owner. “We love the way it has cre­ated a cen­tral hub with an easy tran­si­tion from in­side to out­side.”

A Bed­room

“The morn­ing light and warmth gives us a great start each day,” says the owner. “It’s just the right size and has every­thing we need.” Black­butt ve­neer join­ery. Sisal car­pet. Walls painted Du­lux Pipe Clay.

B Living

“The new fire­place is a fo­cal point and adds com­plex­ity to the space, mak­ing the room feel big­ger than it ac­tu­ally is,” says St­ef­fen. The fire sur­round is re­cy­cled brick. Black­butt floor­ing. ‘Nook’ sofa, Jar­dan.

The African metal wall art was a gift.

C Court­yard

All the rooms at the rear of the prop­erty wrap around the new, low-main­te­nance court­yard. “The new de­sign had to be about not cre­at­ing more work for us,” says the owner. Sil­ver­top ash deck and cladding. Chair and foot­stool, Eco Out­door.

D Din­ing

A crisp but re­strained pal­ette of tim­ber, basalt grey tiles and white join­ery and walls has renewed the home. “The com­bi­na­tion of ma­te­ri­als gives the house a mod­ern feel but still fits in with the pe­riod of the cot­tage,” says the owner. The asym­met­ri­cal cab­i­netry in the din­ing area is a favourite fea­ture. “It looks fan­tas­tic and gives us great stor­age and dis­play spa­ces.” ‘Logico Sus­pen­sion’ pen­dant light, Artemide. ‘Navy’ din­ing ta­ble and chairs, Jar­dan.

The 4.3x3m kitchen is packed with in­te­grated ap­pli­ances and stor­age. Join­ery in black­butt (is­land) and two-pack polyurethane in Du­lux Vivid White. Is­land bench­top in Cae­sar­stone Pure White. The rear bench and splash­back are blue­stone. ‘Eve’ tap­ware, KWC. ‘Apollo’ basalt floor tiles, Clas­sic Ce­ram­ics. ‘Talo Sus­pen­sion’ pen­dant light, Artemide. Stools, Matt Blatt. Sim­ply fab­u­lous: a fit-for-pur­pose, en­ergy-ef­fi­cient Fed­er­a­tion ren­o­va­tion.

BE­LOW The ap­peal­ing circa-1905 frontage only re­quired fresh­en­ing up.

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