A Couple’s Melbourne Home Uses Geometry to Tell a Love Story

Taking inspiration from a John Donne poem, FMD Architects brings in angled shapes that represent the union of two former clients.

For Arthur and Pam Williams, calling on FMD Architects to create their ideal home in Melbourne was a no-brainer—they were both former clients of the firm. In 2013, FMD had designed Pam’s Cross-Stitch House, a residence with a pitched roofline and cascading wooden beams that move from the exterior through the main living spaces. Arthur’s home, however, had stalled in the approval phase.

His and Hers House is oriented to capture as much northern light as possible with the main living spaces and a courtyard at the center. The east-facing bedroom, one of three, receives morning light and has its back to the bright courtyard for more privacy. 

"Arthur’s lot was bigger than Pam’s, so they ended up deciding to redesign that space to make it suitable for their needs," says architect Fiona Dunin.

Due to the previous working relationship, Dunin was left with a "fairly pragmatic" brief, which freed her to think outside the box. The couple asked for comfortable living space, accommodations for Arthur’s adult son, and a secluded bedroom with its own private garden.

"We like modern homes with lots of light and of greenery," says Pam.

The pitched ceiling soars to nearly 15 feet high, "giving a grand sense of scale and volume," says Dunin. The effect is underscored by triangular skylights that brighten up the dining space, which holds a table by Jardan and the chairs by FeelGood Designs. 

In the reconfiguration of the home, Dunin borrowed many concepts from the Cross-Stitch House, bringing in triangular skylights and focusing on light and greenery. However, Pam also wanted to introduce new forms that represented Arthur.

"There’s a poem by John Donne ["A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"] that talks about two compasses twisting and everything returning to one point," says Dunin. "The two triangle skylights in the kitchen, which form a Möbius shape, are referencing that sonnet. It’s a love story in a house."

The kitchen, built with imported Tasmanian oak and plywood, features one of the most beloved details from Pam’s Cross-Stitch House—a kitchen island with a mirrored base—but the floating bench here is shaped differently to represent Arthur. "[The mirror] lightens the space in many ways, so you don’t feel like the island is taking over," says Dunin. Graphic backsplash tiles fom Academy Tile run into laminate countertops with a plywood edge. The refrigerator is Fisher & Paykel, and the combo oven and cooktop is V-ZUG. 

"The angled shapes create a pattern language that is referenced throughout the interiors from the glazing and joinery forms, down to the smallest detail such as the triangulated cabinetry pulls," Dunin says.  

Built in the late 1800s, the original home is a heritage-listed, Victorian terrace, so Dunin was required to preserve the front of the house, including two of the bedrooms. For the rest, she oriented the rooms to get as much northern light as possible.

The living room, which is the Williams’ favorite space, features a solid Tasmanian oak entertaining center that provides a material tie to the kitchen. The two triangular skylights overhead are bordered with LED lighting, so they provide a subtle glow even at night. 

A lot of the living room furniture came from the Cross-Stitch House, including the Jardan couch and chairs. 

The master bedroom connects to a garden and includes a small study area for Pam, who’s semi-retired. Separated from the rest of the house per the homeowners’ request, it’s a serene room that is private, light, and airy.

The bedroom feels secluded and looks out to a garden. The credenza is from Herman Miller and the circular bedspread is from HAY.

The shape of the window is meant to represent Pam. 

Shop the Look
HAY Eiffel Triangular Side Table
Based on a simple layering principal, Depping and Jørgensen created a flexible range of occasional tables using cast-aluminum frames and powder-coated MDF rectangular, square or triangular shelves in various configurations. Eiffel is also available as shelving system components.
The Citizenry Patronato Mirror Set - Hexagon
Complete with a leather strap and marble wall hook, this geometric mirror set doubles as a modern art piece. Style as a duo for the perfect his-and-her bathroom set, or let it fly solo in an entryway.

In the master bathroom, the geometric vanity references the joining of the two homeowners. The same tile from the kitchen appears here, creating a sense of uniformity.

The bathroom has shapes meant to represent Pam and Arthur, and brings in the same tile used in the kitchen. The countertop is Corian, and the cabinet fronts are plywood. 

Outside, which is where the couple enjoy spending most of their time, the scent of jasmine perfumes the air, while blown-glass lights add a sense of whimsy.

For the door that leads off the master bedroom, the architects chose a subtle, contrasting color that worked well with the timber.

Pam is a big fan of blown glass—here, custom pendants set the scene.


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