A once-foundering 1921 arts and crafts-style home in South Yarra has undergone a series of magnificent changes – by one of Melbourne’s most well-regarded heritage architecture practices – that goes way beyond an alteration and addition.
The result is more a remarkable resurrection.
When Tina Tam of Lovell Chen’s design team first saw the white-painted Edwardian brick bungalow with the arched entry, she says the roof tiles had reached the end of their life, the chimney was missing, the front verandah was infilled, and it had other issues, including rising damp.
A deceased estate, “the interiors were sound but tired,” she says.
Ordinarily, such an old pile on a corner block would excite developers. Fortunately, heritage overlays prevented demolition, and so it came into the ownership of a professional couple who had the idea of creating their forever home.
Lovell Chen’s design strategy was to extend up into the roof cavity and out to a new, three-level rear pavilion to adapt the house to fit this new brief.
Today, the upstairs, lantern-like new room, or “His study” above the garage and deep basement gym, sauna and cinema room, does present to the street as an obvious novel extension.
But with the tall chimney reinstated, the lower brickwork stripped back and re-tuckpointed, the upper facades re-rendered, the front porch reinstated, and a suitable new fence, the Jewel Box appears to be a rather interesting period house that’s been polished back to respectability.
Yet, so much more has happened underneath those replacement Marseilles tiles that had to be imported from France.
A huge works program that Tam explains “kept the principal structure of the floor plan intact” commenced with dismantling and rebuilding the roof. The ground floor’s former 3.6-metre ceiling height was brought down by 600 mm, creating a viable attic space and enabling the internal accommodation to almost double.
“The owners,” Ms Tam says, “wanted to keep the humble nature of the house”. And duly, that’s how it might appear to an uninformed eye.
“Yet with a gross floor area that is now 450 square metres, it’s quite a lot of house to be fitting onto a small site.”
Up the new staircase that fits in seamlessly beneath a large custom-made leaded ceiling light is a charming suite of inserted rooms that includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms and masses of storage.
New dormer windows, invisible from the street, infuse the upper level with daylight. And from the main bedroom, a small rear balcony and an aerial bridge lead to the “Master’s study”, which is surrounded by timber-framed windows with wide sills, providing “views to the treetops on all sides”.
Also accessible via a new spiral stair, arrival in the aerial workspace gives a sense of coming up into the trees. Tina Tam talks of “a sense of release”.
Augmenting the agreeableness of the space is, she says, “the horizontality of the room, which is so different”.
The couple also asked for one of the downstairs rooms to be dedicated as a library and along the same north, garden-facing frontage, a “Hers study”.
It is this room – perhaps more than any other of the spaces that have been so perfectly composed in a collaboration between the Lovell Chen team and the equally estimable interiors specialists, Nexus Designs – that makes a case for employing the best in the business to get the best of results.
Nexus introduced wallpaper and matching curtaining designed by the Arts and Crafts Movement founder William Morris. So not only is it period-appropriate, it creates an enwrapping verdant atmosphere, somewhat like an interior garden.
Without being overly beholden to one of the most influential decor movements of the Industrial Age, Nexus has acknowledged the style, but throughout the house has mixed in an effortless collation of modern art, furnishings and jewel-like paint colours and fabrics.
The totality of the makeover is the hallmark of the now extraordinary home.
Everything about it has been deliberated, even down to the bronze-coloured stainless steel lining beneath the eaves of the extension, put there, Ms Tam explains, “to reflect the garden underneath”.
The great room of the home, the living, dining and kitchen space is another achievement that sits agreeably in the house’s 1920s context.
Working as structure to support the upper floor and characteristic of the craftmanship of arts and crafts style, a new grid of exposed Victorian ash beams distinguishes the ceiling.
It’s another aspect of “contemporary arts and crafts”.
“It’s an interpretation,” Tam says, “but it all feels harmonious.”
Thank you for stopping to visit My Local Pages. We Hope you enjoyed checking out this news release on “What’s On in the City of Brisbane” called “Before and after: The magnificent renovation of a South Yarra arts and crafts style house”. This news release was brought to you by My Local Pages as part of our Australian events & what’s on stories services.
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