Bombers chief’s ter­race lights the way

A bright, mod­ern ren­o­va­tion has trans­formed the ter­race home of Essendon chief Xavier Camp­bell


VIC­TO­RIAN ter­race houses can be very dark and poky. But step in­side the ren­o­vated home of Essendon Foot­ball Club chief ex­ec­u­tive Xavier Camp­bell and wife Clare Hawkins and you’ll find a ter­race that breaks the mould. A mod­ern rear ex­ten­sion gives the house some­thing sorely lack­ing in most ter­races: oo­dles of light and stor­age space — not to men­tion a bold fo­cal point in the form of a curved, lime-washed tim­ber ceil­ing.

“Dur­ing the de­sign process, I asked the ar­chi­tects to in­tro­duce some round­ness to take the edge off the an­gles of the room,” Ms Hawkins said. “They sug­gested the ply ceil­ing and it’s beau­ti­ful.”

The cou­ple en­gaged ar­chi­tect Ew­ert Leaf to de­sign the ren­o­va­tion. The first part of the job en­tailed restor­ing the run-down orig­i­nal part of the house — fix­ing cracks and lev­el­ling un­even floors — and in­tro­duc­ing a brighter, more mod­ern colour scheme and con­tem­po­rary light fit­tings. Stylish new bath­rooms were also in­stalled.

Then came the ex­ten­sion. This takes the shape of a rear kitchen, din­ing and liv­ing area. Here, you’ll find a glass roof over part of the space that floods the room with day­light. It’s also here you’ll find that stun­ning ply ceil­ing.

Ar­chi­tect Will Leaf said the ceil­ing cre­ated “a nice soft coun­ter­point” to ex­posed brick, which also fea­tured, but he ac­knowl­edged it was the most dif­fi­cult as­pect of the de­sign to re­solve.

“Get­ting the ra­dius right posed a real chal­lenge for the builders,” he said.

An­other fea­ture of the ex­ten­sion is a large wall de­voted to stor­age — par­tic­u­larly handy, given the cou­ple has two chil­dren: Fred­die, 3, and baby Francesca.

“We have so much stor­age now, it’s amaz­ing,” Ms Hawkins said. “It re­ally helps hide away all the stuff that comes with hav­ing two young chil­dren in the fam­ily.”

Mr Camp­bell and Ms Hawkins tem­pered some of their ren­o­va­tion de­ci­sions, know­ing they would even­tu­ally out­grow and sell the home — af­ter all, there’s not much space for Mr Camp­bell to kick around a footy in the rear court­yard with kids.

But there’s still a huge amount of char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity in the home.

Ms Hawkins, who hails from Ber­ri­gan in NSW, has in­cor­po­rated some el­e­ments from her home­town in the decor. A bed­head and the din­ing ta­ble are con­structed from doors she picked up at a Ber­ri­gan junk­yard.

She also chose a few bold de­sign el­e­ments, such as the vivid stair run­ner lead­ing up to the sec­ond storey.

“The hall­way and stairs are too nar­row to have art on the wall, so I went with a fea­ture stair run­ner in­stead — I wanted some­thing quite out there,” she said.

De­spite the chal­lenges of ren­o­vat­ing while work­ing and rais­ing a young fam­ily, the cou­ple is ex­tremely pleased with the ren­o­va­tion.

“It’s so unique — I haven’t seen any­thing like it,” Mr Camp­bell said. “I’m re­ally happy with how it makes the most of the space we have.”

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