A Glazed Addition Amps Up the Allure of a Victorian Home in Melbourne
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A Glazed Addition Amps Up the Allure of a Victorian Home in Melbourne

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By Lauren Jones
HA Architecture introduces a wall of windows to bring light and life into an Australian mullet home.

When Nick Harding of Ha Architecture was hired to renovate an 1880s Victorian terrace home in Moreland, Australia, the firm was met with a series of challenges. The original structure had great bones, but it lacked natural light—and it would take some clever architectural planning to give the residents the open and airy spaces they so desired. Furthermore, Harding would have to work around a series of building regulations due to the property’s heritage status.

Steel-framed glass doors provide plenty of natural light. Harding took extra steps to ensure that the house was properly insulated. "We aren't great at thermally designing houses in Australia," he says. 

The Chamfer House is one of many Victorian terrace houses constructed from the 1880s to the 1890s in Melbourne.

The home, which is located in a booming and culturally diverse part of Melbourne, features ornate steelwork typical of a 19th-century Victorian. The homeowners, who happen to be old friends of Harding’s, fell in love with its charming facade.

"The brief was pretty simple," he says. "It was very much about bringing in natural light and having naturally lit living spaces that would be timelessly designed and functional."

The front stairway features a delicate archway and wood flooring. While the goal wasn’t to match the same timber, the addition’s minimalist color palette and choice of timber help smooth the gap between the old and the new. 

Harding’s solution was to create a back addition that’s hidden from the street, and that includes a study, a powder room, and spacious living, cooking, and dining areas. With reference images in hand, and prior experience renovating a number of row houses, Harding and his team got to work.

Harding went for simplicity in the kitchen, which features white backsplash tiles from Ceramica Vogue, a Ceaserstone countertop in Pure White, a Blanco sink with a Milli Inox fixture, and suface-mounted lights.

While the facade couldn’t be changed due to the home’s historic status, Harding "effectively assimilated the old and new construction" with two coats of white paint (Dulux's Lexicon Quarter), which echoes the simplicity of the sculpted addition.

The addition’s low-impact form was driven by a local building rule that requires contractors to respect neighboring yards. "If your courtyard is less than 40 square meters, it’s deemed as precious space—so you can’t have a structure that would overshadow your neighbor’s home," he says. 

Furthermore, the home’s lot is quite narrow—so the addition would have to accommodate all of the family’s needs in one compact space.

The steel-framed doors fully open to the courtyard, maximizing indoor/outdoor living space on the small lot.

The homeowners went back and forth on how much timber they wanted in their home, however Ha Architecture ultimately delivered a plan that addressed their differing design styles and felt "as generous as possible in size" with plenty of natural light. As the addition is Southern-facing, HA went for a wall of double-glazed steel-framed windows that open into the garden.

"Buckets sit around the fireplace to hold the firewood and provide a nice contrast between the cabinetry," Harding says. The bold black Stovax fireplace is the primary statement in the living room, however it also displays the homeowners’ curated items and a piece of art by Clare Brody from Studio Gallery in Melbourne.

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"We did a lot of testing with the windows to make sure that not too much light would stream in during the daytime," he says. To add even more light, HA inserted a light well between the original home and the add-on. 

Harding went for Fisher & Paykel appliances, which disappear behind a wall of Tasmanian oak joinery. 

The common area features a series of custom built-ins made of Tasmanian oak—a wood very common in Southern Australian residential projects. The seamless built-ins conceal the laundry room and Fisher & Paykel kitchen appliances, and hold the entertainment system in the living room. 

The renovation introduced a powder bath with a wall-mounted sink from Alape WT and fixtures by Milli Pure.

"We often work on row houses that are five or six meters wide, and when you are dealing with those restrictions, built-ins are the way to go," he says. The floor plan differs every time, but [it’s some iteration]."

A central fireplace in the living room offers a moment of relief from the dark timber—and an efficient way to heat the home. "It’s designed to go reasonably close to the cabinetry, so it fits well in this tightly designed inner-city home," he says. "The clients didn't want to invest in elaborate heating, and they now love this fireplace and use it every day."

Located in the new addition, the couple’s master bedroom features the same timber-and-white theme and built-in shelving.

The living room includes a Coco Flip pendant, a Jardan lounge and armchair, and a CV110 Cove coffee table.

While the renovation did have many difficult parameters, it produced a more family-friendly, functional space that the homeowners can enjoy for years to come.

Related Reading:

12 Mullet Homes in Melbourne That Are Modern in the Back 

10 Mullet Homes That Are Traditional in the Front, Modern in the Back

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Ha Architecture / @ha_arc

Builder/General Contractor: Block Constructions

Structural Engineer: Keith Long and Associates

Landscape Design Company: Peachy Green/@peachy_green_

Lighting Design: Light Project / @light_project

Cabinetry: JLA Joinery / @jlajoineryandkitchens

Photo Stylist: Bea Lambos / @beaandcostyle

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