A Historic Melbourne Home Is Respectfully Modernized For a Young Family

By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
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Still adhering to its local neighborhood vernacular, this delightful dwelling in the suburb of Princess Hill gets a contemporary rear-facade refresh.

After a thoughtful remodel, Australian firm Tom Robertson Architects has transformed this heritage home into a bright and modern dwelling for a couple with two young children. Measuring at 1,938 square feet, the house features a large open-plan living area, a private roof terrace, along with a quaint study, and three bedrooms.

Despite the rear facade's contemporary design, the heritage details on the front of the house were retained and restored.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

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While the original vision of the renovation was to create an eclectic industrial aesthetic, the architects became inspired by the interesting historical character of the property and switched their focus to a much more calm and restrained design.  

Robertson restored the existing rooms in the front of the original house, and redesigned the back of the home to have a much more modern, indoor/outdoor living experience.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

"This was more respectful of the beautiful heritage house," explains Robertson. Though the overall design concept is clearly contemporary, elements such as recycled bricks and restored stucco arches connect the redesign to the original fabric of the historic home. 

The upper section of the façade is clad in timber, and features large steel-framed windows that extend slightly beyond the siding.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

A look at one of the restored stucco arches along the ceiling of the hallway.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

"One of the most interesting features is the glazed floor above the master corridor that allows a flood of light to penetrate into the kitchen zone," says Robertson.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

Most of the furniture items were sourced from Melbourne furniture retailer Luke Furniture.  

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

Washed oak joinery and textured tiles add warmth to the space, providing a soft contrast to the crisp concrete and brick.  

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

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A simple color palette of gray, white, and brown gives the home a sleek, Scandinavian-inspired vibe.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

Hard materials such as polished concrete were used for the interior floors and bench-tops. The interior brick walls were all painted white.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

To avoid a dark, claustrophobic feel, Robertson introduced a skylight to open up and brighten the interiors. 

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

The bedroom on the upper level features a strategically placed window that frames vistas of the mountains and beyond.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

The upper level includes an open study area, as well as a private master bedroom. 

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

Sliding glass doors next to a freestanding bath provide visual connectivity to the outdoors.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

A new bathroom is located just before a step down to the living areas.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

On the roof terrace is a casual chair and planter, which helps make this space a lovely spot to relax and soak up the Australian sunshine.

Courtesy of Lillie Thompson

A sectional drawing.

Courtesy of Tom Roberson Architects

The ground-level plan.

Courtesy of Tom Roberson Architects

The loft-level plan.

Courtesy of Tom Roberson Architects

Project Credits: 

Architecture and interior design: Tom Robertson Architects

Builder: 2iC Construction

Photography: Lillie Thompson

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