Before & After: A Melbourne Pub Is Recast as a Funky Home
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Before & After: A Melbourne Pub Is Recast as a Funky Home

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By Laura Mauk
Formerly a dated pub, then an office space, Hoa’s House is now a three-bedroom abode with curves in all the right places.

When Amy Bracks and Miles Ritzmann-Williams teamed up to form the Melbourne–based design firm Ioa Studio, their first commission was to transform a 150-year-old pub in North Melbourne into a three-bedroom home—using color, texture, and serpentine lines to make the residence as warm as it is compelling.

Before the pub became a home, the building was originally known as the Kings Arms Hotel. "It was subdivided into three separate titles," Bracks says. Just before Bracks and Ritzmann-Williams’s client and friend bought the central portion, the space was being used as an office. "It was very dull and clinical," Bracks adds. "It didn’t have a straight bone in it, and the plan was very awkward."

Before: Kitchen 

The area that would be the kitchen, before the pub was converted into a home.

The area that would be the kitchen, before the pub was converted into a home.

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After: Kitchen

Pink-toned terrazzo tile counters and a backsplash and olive green-painted cabinetry enlivens the kitchen, where the designers created open shelving using leftover plywood from the mezzanine ceiling panels.

Pink-toned terrazzo tile counters and a backsplash and olive green-painted cabinetry enlivens the kitchen, where the designers created open shelving using leftover plywood from the mezzanine ceiling panels.

Blue velvet drapery separates the dining room from the living area, where there are leather-and-wood lounge chairs by Tessa Furniture and a floor lamp from Artemide.

Blue velvet drapery separates the dining room from the living area, where there are leather-and-wood lounge chairs by Tessa Furniture and a floor lamp from Artemide.

The designers painted beams and columns a pale shade of pink that contrasts with olive green walls and chairs in the dining room.

The designers painted beams and columns a pale shade of pink that contrasts with olive green walls and chairs in the dining room.

As Bracks and Ritzmann-Williams, who has since moved onto another firm, worked to transform the commercial space into a residential one, they maintained original elements that call to mind the pub’s history. "Where possible, we kept existing materials—exposed brickwork around the windows, old ceiling joists, bluestone walls, and concrete [flooring] that we polished and sealed," Bracks says. "We reused and repurposed materials we found and kept material wastage to a minimum."

Before: Second-Floor Bedrooms 

The second level before the curved wall and bedrooms were installed.

The second level before the curved wall and bedrooms were installed.

After: Second-Floor Bedrooms

Seagrass flooring and exposed brick and bluestone around a window in one of the bedrooms.

Seagrass flooring and exposed brick and bluestone around a window in one of the bedrooms.

Exposed brick and bluestone in the second-level bathroom.

Exposed brick and bluestone in the second-level bathroom.

The designers worked closely with the builder, completing some of the construction work. "We experimented with materials and colors and learned through building," Bracks says. "Being on-site so much gave us the ability to discover and create unexpected moments like a hidden mezzanine reading area in the existing roof space of the old pub." Removing some of the ceiling’s structural elements facilitated the mezzanine and created double-height space for the first-floor living areas.

Curved walls define the bedrooms on the second level.

Curved walls define the bedrooms on the second level.

Seagrass ceiling and flooring in one of the bedrooms recalls the Australian bush.

Seagrass ceiling and flooring in one of the bedrooms recalls the Australian bush.

Before: Mezzanine 

The wood ceiling rafters in an area Bracks and Ritzmann-Williams recreated as a mezzanine-level bedroom.

The wood ceiling rafters in an area Bracks and Ritzmann-Williams recreated as a mezzanine-level bedroom.

An original archway was repurposed for storage.

An original archway was repurposed for storage.

After: Mezzanine

The designers maintained the pub's original brick siding and employed seagrass flooring and a plywood ceiling in the mezzanine. The wood desk is a vintage drafting table.

The designers maintained the pub's original brick siding and employed seagrass flooring and a plywood ceiling in the mezzanine. The wood desk is a vintage drafting table.

A skylight in the mezzanine creates an airy sleeping area.

A skylight in the mezzanine creates an airy sleeping area.

The client specifically requested rich textures and colors that call to mind the Australian bush. In response, the designers covered the floors and the ceiling on the second level with seagrass and used soft hues to define rooms on the open-plan first level. In the kitchen and dining space, olive green cabinetry and pale pink pipes, beams, and columns help to separate the areas from the living room. A step—with a built-in storage drawer—and curved walls also help to create definition. "The curves were the key to dividing the small, awkward spaces, and they connected perfectly with an existing archway," Bracks says. 

A steel ladder leads between a double-height common area and the mezzanine above. An original archway became built-in storage that hides an existing downpipe. 

A steel ladder leads between a double-height common area and the mezzanine above. An original archway became built-in storage that hides an existing downpipe. 

Bracks and Ritzmann-Williams’s client was a big inspiration when it came to the building’s redesign. "She has extensive design knowledge and an amazing eye for color and composition," says Bracks, who created a variety of small nooks and hidden spaces to exhibit the client’s collection of furniture and objects. The designer continues, "We wanted to bring a sense of warmth and playfulness that reflect her personality."  

More Before & After:

A Mullet Renovation Fills a Portland "Super Bungalow" With Daylight

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rarely Seen Fredrick House Is Deftly Restored

A Park Avenue Prewar Apartment Gets a Multihued Makeover

Project Credits:

Designer: Ioa Studio / @ioa_studio

Builder: MACCA

Structural Engineer: Maurice Farrugia & Associates