Inside Out (Australia)
DREAM IT. DESIGN IT. DO IT. The ambitious renovation of this rundown heritage home has resulted in a modern masterpiece
With curves in all the right places and a few out-of-the-box ideas, this heritage home now has an innovative, contemporary look
The engineers always have a slight heart attack when Bill builds our houses,” says Steph Fry of her husband. “He loves to live on the edge. I’m the opposite, I like
to play it safe.” It’s clear the pair make a good team. The home they share with their three children in Melbourne’s Hawthorn is beautifully balanced: old with new, warm touches of stone and aged timbers with sleek concrete and glass, and discreet detailing with big-impact design ideas.
It’s a renovation, but only just.The original Californian bungalow was in such a state of disrepair that perhaps only a builder-turned-developer, such as Bill, could have seen past the heritage constraints to identify the potential. Steve Domoney of Steve Domoney Architecture drew up a design that allowed the couple to restore the front of the cottage to meet heritage requirements while creating a new home at the back that capitalised on the double block with double-street entrance. An underground level, spherical third storey and central circular courtyard fuse the old with new.
While Steph and Bill had worked together on countless builds and developments, this one had to be extra special to take them through the kids’ teen years. “It’s our last family home,” says Steph. Interior designer Mikayla Rose of Heartly was enlisted to tweak the layout to suit and ensure the bold building ideas – such as the Perspex wall in the teenage retreat that frames the underbelly of the pool – are countered with a fit-out that fosters family time.
Keen to stay in their favourite patch of Melbourne, Steph and Bill ended up buying across the street from their previous home, which Bill had also built. This final family home – and they’ve had quite a few – was a chance to pull together their favourite materials and techniques gleaned from a long career in the industry, while also catering to a new life stage. “We wanted the teenagers and university children to be able to have their own space. We didn’t want to be on top of each other like we were in our last home,” says Steph.
“As a consequence, we have the downstairs basement, which is like a teenager’s retreat with a billiard table, TV and sofa where the teenagers can hang out,” says Steph. The underground view of the pool is a striking source of light. Above ground, the living, kitchen and outdoor spaces are beautifully blended. “There are distinctive areas in the house where you can retreat to, but everything is still quite connected,” says interior designer Mikayla.