This Historic Melbourne Home Hides a Curvaceous Dreamscape Within its Walls

This Historic Melbourne Home Hides a Curvaceous Dreamscape Within its Walls

By Kate Reggev
An Edwardian residence in Melbourne is updated, enlarged, and reimagined with a circular poolside pavilion.

When clients asked Kennedy Nolan to renovate their historic home, they were looking for something "expressive, engaging and memorable." In turn, the firm delivered a simple, striking, and thoughtful revamp that introduces a backyard addition, garden, and swimming pool with unexpected forms and carefully-selected, almost poetic materials.

The new addition, located in the center of the long, rectangular plot, sits behind the historic home and follows the form of a circular swimming pool.

Some portions of the swimming pool butt up against the new pavilion. The circular windows in the arched openings are operable, allowing for airflow.

From the street, one enters the traditional, weatherboard-covered home through the original front entrance. The single-story, wood-framed house holds a small living room and private areas like bedrooms. At the back of the lot, a partially enclosed courtyard holds a small garden and the new addition, which wraps around a circular pool.

Kennedy Nolan carefully considered the materials, textures, and patterns used throughout the interiors and exteriors. 

The courtyard is paved with rectangular pavers, while the pool is edged with terrazzo tiles of a similar color and stone. Together, the two materials play with scale.

Circular windows and arched doorways dramatically distinguish the new addition from  the original home. The ground floor of the addition is clad with rectangular bricks painted white, while the upper levels are covered in blackened wood siding. The white brick connects the addition to the white wood siding of the existing bungalow, while the charred timber provides a strong visual contrast.

The rear of the addition opens up to the backyard garden, which features a low curved brick wall, again harkening back to the curves of the pool and the new pavilion.

The brick masonry walls and rectangular stone pavers fluidly flow from the addition’s exterior to the interior.

The pool is unusual for both its central location on the site and its perfectly circular form—but it’s still highly functional. According to the architects, the pool "is imagined for year-round use—for swimming in the summer, and as a dark pond reflecting the facade in winter."

The open kitchen features full-length counters and a large island whose base is clad in the same narrow, off-white tiles as the backsplash. A large glazed door opens to a small outdoor eating area.

Custom wood cabinets run along a side wall into the dining area, making up for the lack of upper cabinets in the kitchen.

Siting the pool in a partially-enclosed courtyard provides environmental benefits as well: the water feature provides evaporative cooling in the summer, which is further enhanced by passive solar design and cross ventilation. The rear rear rooms enjoy northern exposures with views of the garden.

The living room is open to the dining and kitchen area. Light floods in from the arched openings that look out onto the swimming pool.

The custom sofa in the living room echoes the same curved motif found throughout the renovation.

The new addition houses a bathroom, kitchen, and living area with access to a second courtyard space for dining. A pea-green, closed-tread stair with a curved landing leads to a master bedroom with an en suite bathroom and office.

Kennedy Nolan selected a moody green color for the bent steel staircase with vertical bars. The staircase leads to a master suite on the upper level and adds a pop of color to the space.

The walls, carpeting, and furniture have neutral tones, however texture and form provides visual interest.

The whole house playfully echoes the addition’s forms, tones, and shapes. In the kitchen, curved elements support the kitchen island and the stovetop exhaust. The white, rectangular tile is reminiscent of the rectangular bricks of the extension facade, but scaled down to a size appropriate for the space. Sculptural orbs hang from a light fixture above the kitchen island—and the black structure matches the window frames. 

The master bedroom features a built-in headboard/shelf that echoes the millwork in the kitchen below. The brick wall is exposed on the interior, providing an unexpected dose of texture.

The historic home’s bedrooms and living room showcase original decorative baseboard and crown molding. The spaces feature the same neutral tones as the rest of the house, with moments of color—like the green fireplace.

Light wood cabinetry extends from the kitchen into the living area, which features curved furniture and sculptural lighting. The sofa fits perfectly into the irregular corner of the room, and it’s capped by a curvaceous end table. A hanging fireplace completes the living area.

The master bathroom continues the material and color palette established elsewhere in the home with its vertically oriented white rectangular tiles. A shelf below the medicine cabinet is trimmed in marble.

Upstairs, the same vertically-oriented off-white tile from the kitchen follows the curves of the master bathroom’s walls. The bedroom and office incorporate simple, minimalist cabinetry (as seen in the lower level) for closet and bedside storage.

An undulating wall divides the bathtub and toilet, continuing the home’s motif of curved surfaces.

The ground floor plan shows the contrast between the rectilinear form of the original Edwardian-era house, and the curved form of the new addition.

The new addition follows the form of the pool and rises up two stories to a second floor that houses the master bedroom and en suite bathroom.

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