There’s a Jungle Inside This Blackened Timber Home in Melbourne

There’s a Jungle Inside This Blackened Timber Home in Melbourne

By Kelly Dawson
A small family's dream of a spacious entertaining home in Melbourne comes to life through a design that hinges on contrasts.

When a couple with a young daughter envisioned the next few years of their lives, they pictured it from a suburban neighborhood along the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. They imagined a gathering place known for entertaining, where guests could feel welcome to come and go with ease. There had to be enough space, of course, but they didn't want their home's square footage to cut them off from the outdoors, either.

Unlike the rest of the home, the front facade of the property is entirely covered in sustainably sourced silvertop ash wood with a blackened finish.

A small courtyard at the center of the home provides ample natural light while infusing the minimal interior with color and life.

The property they found matched almost none of their expectations—but it did sit on land they loved.

"The existing home was charming, but it was almost unlovable," architect Andrew Walter says. "However, the site's setting was spectacular, and a new home that made the most of the beautiful setting was the only option."

The home features a spacious ground floor for entertaining and a trio of bedrooms for the family of three.

By removing the previous home from the site, Walter and his namesake design firm, Walter & Walter, created a fresh start for these forward-thinking owners. Given that they wanted a versatile space for their family and various guests, Walter outlined a minimalist design that rested on two simple yet impactful elements: glass and wood.

Floor-to-ceiling windows placed strategically throughout the home's footprint make the outdoor landscape a part of the family's daily lives, and clean lines of dark ash provide much-needed depth and texture to the otherwise white interior. 

The heavy use of blackened wood at the front of the property gives way to light-filled living areas toward the back. Fido Projects manufactured and finished the custom timber windows, while the double-glazed units were supplied by Viridian Glass. 

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The minimalist kitchen is in keeping with the rest of the home: It has clean lines, few details, and that same classic contrast between black and white. The custom joinery is by Orana with fixtures by Roger Seller. The countertops are made of custom-cut Limestone. 

The blackened wood is the defining feature of the property, especially from the street. Its dark, almost imposing presence is uninterrupted by windows on the front facade, making for an appearance that has the effect of a well-positioned guard. "The blackened rough ash complements the landscape, yet also contrasts to the interior openness of the spaces," Walter says.

Upon entering, the home feels much lighter. Walter designed the floor plan with "layers" that slowly blend oversized panes of glass with wood through the back of the property, which is mostly made up of glass. Not only does this trick make the 2,500-square-foot home appear larger, but it also makes the home more sustainable, durable, and comfortable year-round, he says.

Strategically placed windows maximize natural light and give the appearance of more space. The flooring is solid American oak, and the owners' extensive vintage furniture collection features throughout the home. 

When the home was completed, the owners no longer had to envision a future place to call their own. Walter had given them a property that met all of their standards: It had the space and style they desired, with the ability "to entertain both inside and out," he says.

The back of the property contrasts with the front by showcasing numerous oversized windows. The deck is made from the same silvertop ash wood. 

Related Reading: Soak In the Greatness of This Gorgeous Melbourne Addition

Project Details:

Architect of Record, Interior Design : Walter & Walter / 

Builder: Fido Projects / @FidoProjects

Structural Engineer: Co-Struct

Landscape Design: Lygon Street Nursery 


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