An Australian Cottage Gets a Japanese-Inspired Makeover and a New Home Office
When your office is also your home, it can be a challenge to separate work from play. But in this contemporary cottage located in Melbourne, Australia, Austin Maynard Architects struck the perfect balance, creating both a domestic sanctuary and functional workspace for a couple and their three cats.
Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design
To meet the homeowners’ requests, the Victoria, Australia–based firm created a bright and airy house where they could work from home, and also easily entertain friends and family.
The 1,055-square-foot clapboard cottage, originally built in 1927, was enlarged with a 732-square-foot addition containing a first-floor master suite and second-story office. Also, the original footprint of the residence was revitalized with an updated kitchen and bathroom.
Shop the Look
Drawing inspiration from the homeowners’ love for meditation and taking cues from Japanese gardens and Buddhist retreats in Kyoto, tranquil gardens were created off the master suite, dining area, and bathroom. And with the property bookended by two streets, Austin Maynard Architects designed two front yards for the home.
Large sliding glass panels allow the master suite to seamlessly flow into the lush gardens, while also giving the room plenty of privacy. Along the back of the property, an oversized panel of shutters allows the homeowners to transition between privacy and street views.
Carpeted in turf and edible plantings, the roof is accessible by ladder, and also provides a layer of insulation for the home. Inside, up the spiral staircase and perched on the roof, is the home office: a crow’s nest overlooking the roof garden, back deck, and gum tree in the back garden.
Paying homage to Japanese "onsens" (bathing hot springs), in the bathroom a sunken brick basin was designed with a removable wood top to create a shower platform. The wash room opens to a private garden that is nestled between the original cottage and the master suite addition. And, hidden in the bathroom’s cabinetry, a secret passage leads to the kitchen.
To accommodate cooking and large gatherings, the homeowners also requested a high-functioning kitchen with custom-designed storage and top-of-the-line appliances like double ovens, Zip HydroTaps, and sous vide cookers.
Sustainability also was taken into consideration. The home was designed to increase solar gain and reduce the need for mechanical heating and cooling with double-glazed windows and solar panels. Rain tanks also were installed to collect roof water to use for flushing toilets and watering the garden.
Architect: Mark Austin with Austin Maynard Architects
Builder/general contractor: Stuart Burgess with CBD Contracting
Structural engineer: Robin Bliem with R. Bliem & Associates
Landscape design: Damon Fuhrer Landscapes
Mural: Seb Humphreys with Order 55
Where to Stay in Melbourne