A Cramped Melbourne Victorian Gets an Earthy Refresh Inspired by the Australian Bush

A Cramped Melbourne Victorian Gets an Earthy Refresh Inspired by the Australian Bush

Designer Kim Kneipp revamps a dark, 1890s home with clever storage solutions and custom joinery made of recycled wood.
Photos by

After waiting five years to find out if their home was going to be destroyed by the construction of a proposed freeway, two sisters and their friend finally got the go-ahead to renovate the Victorian they share in the leafy suburb of Kensington in Melbourne, Australia. The residents followed up with designer Kim Kneipp, who had done some restyling work on the late 19th-century dwelling years prior. The brief was simple: Reconfigure the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom to improve circulation, bring in more natural light, and make the home more sustainable.

During the initial renovation, Kneipp designed floor-to-ceiling shelving in the dining room, which "removed a lot of the clutter they had [and] started to transform the way they lived," Kneipp says. This time around, custom joinery was also central to the revamp.

Due to a combination of budget constraints and the desire to avoid further delays by applying for building permits, Kneipp worked entirely within the home’s existing footprint. The designer rotated the kitchen 90 degrees, moved a boarded-up window, and cut back an internal wall to create a clear sight line to the courtyard. She also built a curved kitchen island with a concealed bar, as well as a wooden ladder attached to a brass rail that provides access to the ceiling-height white Laminex storage cupboards.

To make the home more sustainable, Kneipp replaced the existing gas burners with an induction stove and traded an oversize bathtub for a deep—but compact—cedar soaking tub. The kitchen island and cabinets are made of recycled timber, taking cue from the wooden bookcase that Kneipp installed during the home’s first restyling.

Shop the Look
Karimoku Case Study Chair
Bringing together the design philosophies from Japan and Denmark, the Karimoku Case Study Chair (2018) by Norm Architects delivers exceptional craftsmanship in a minimalist, inviting piece.
Cold Picnic Secret Garden Rug
Flat weave rug. 100% wool yarn. This rug is from our The Desert Companion rug collection. Faded Pear with lavender, celery and tomato.
Herman Miller Nelson Ball Bubble Pendant
While outfitting his office, architect and Herman Miller design director George Nelson discovered a silk-covered Swedish hanging lamp that he coveted but found too expensive.

"Because we knew they were such nature lovers and campers, my very first inspiration for the renovation was the Australian bush," says Kneipp. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and a shortage of materials forced the designer to rethink the palette. Though the inspiration remained the same, Kneipp ended up using slightly darker, more intense greens, browns, and grays.

In the laundry room, for example, the designer chose a saturated shade of aloe vera green to clad the built-in storage cabinets. The bathroom combines natural wood joinery with forest-green tiles, charcoal-gray flooring, brass fixtures, and a pressed metal ceiling to evoke a design reminiscent of a Japanese onsen with Art Deco and Victorian influences. 

"[The palette] sort of tells the story of going from the trunks of the trees in the kitchen, through to the canopy in the laundry room, and then stepping out into an airy combination in the bathroom," Kneipp says. "[The residents] absolutely love it. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many out-and-out compliments from clients." 

Related Reading:

A Banana Popsicle–Inspired Kitchen Island Is the Heart of This Playful Aussie Home

16 Impressive "Before & After" Renovations in Australia

Project Credits:

Interior Design: Kim Kneipp / @kim.kneipp

Builder/General Contractor: Obake Creations

Cabinetry Design/Installation: ZP Woodworks

Laundry/Pantry Cabinetry: Andrew Sama Design / @andrew_sama_design

Cedar Bathtub: Fifteen Degrees by Design

Photography: Lisa Cohen / @lisacohenphoto


Last Updated


Get the Pro Newsletter

What’s new in the design world? Stay up to date with our essential dispatches for design professionals.