A boldly modern house takes shape in the renovation of this inner Melbourne property.
The residents of this home in Melbourne’s inner north-east were well acquainted with their architect long before their renovation was discussed. Fiona Dunin, director of FMD Architects, initially devised a scheme for owner Arthur, who shared the single-fronted Victorian-era terrace with his son Lindsay. Fiona had previously transformed an Edwardian home nearby for Arthur’s partner, Pam Mitchell.
“Then Pam and I decided to get married and live under one roof,” says Arthur. That meant choosing between two abodes. While Pam’s home (known as the Cross Stitch House and featured in the April 2015 issue of H&G) ticked numerous boxes, this property offered greater outdoor space and potential for all the amenities three adults and two generations would require in a shared home. “Lindsay is 24, so he needs his own space, as do we,” says Pam.
When council approved the original plans for Arthur’s renovation and extension, the house was designed for a father and son. The new living arrangements, however, required some fine-tuning. In addition, Pam and Arthur were keen to translate favourite features of the Cross Stitch House to this home.
Among the most distinctive elements of both projects are the dramatic use of angles, raked ceilings and joinery featuring mirrored surfaces. The first can be seen to great effect in the window frames, cabinetry and bathroom vanities. Some angled features take on the abstracted shape of a pitched-roof house, in various orientations.
“We call this one the His & Her House,” the proud architect says of the 158m2 project. “It’s a merging of design references
HALLWAY A ramp from the kitchen leads to Pam and Arthur’s bedroom, which has a slightly lower floor height. The built-in storage and display space along the corridor includes much of Arthur’s vinyl record collection. Green glass vessels, Mark Douglass Design. Tasmanian oak flooring with Bona ‘Traffic’ finish. KITCHEN/LIVING Pam at ease in this airy space, where angled skylight shafts cast intriguing patterns of light. She brought the ottoman, sofa and armchair (all by Jardan) from the Cross Stitch House. Kitchen stools, Great Dane. Copper planter, The Greenery Garden Centre. Artwork by Wendy Ford. from the original design for Arthur and the best elements of the Cross Stitch House.”
The two front rooms have been left in their original form, with minor changes. The first now functions as a study/ guestroom. Next is Lindsay’s bedroom with french doors opening to a side courtyard and adjacent bathroom, which has a door to the living area so it cleverly doubles as a powder room when required.
Central to Fiona’s design is the new open-plan kitchen, dining and living area. The kitchen is pivotal to the design, with its 3.2m-long island bench forming an arresting focal point. Mirrored on three sides, the unit appears to ‘float’ off the floor. Its geometric quality is complemented by triangular splashback tiles. Soaring above are skylights, and LED lighting set into the walls and concealed in skylight shafts. “The LEDs accentuate the angles of the walls and the ceiling,” says Fiona. At night, they create a glow against the moonlight.”
A garden courtyard behind the kitchen and passageway along the side separate the open-plan area from the main bedroom. The side corridor is lined with cabinets and shelving and its generous windows strengthen the outdoor connection. That same bright, welcoming quality is evident in the landscaped courtyard featuring an integrated barbecue and dining setting (designed by Fiona and built by joiner Spence Construction).
“We’re very happy,” says Pam. “Fiona has created a wonderful place for us to live. This house feels like a real home.” >
FMD Architects, Melbourne, Victoria; (03) 9670 9671 or fmdarchitects.com.au. Basis Builders, Prahran, Victoria; 0412 821 720 or basisbuilders.com.au.