A 1904 Melbourne Victorian Freshens Up With a Curvaceous Mullet Renovation
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A 1904 Melbourne Victorian Freshens Up With a Curvaceous Mullet Renovation

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By Melissa Dalton
In Melbourne, a rear addition with bold curved elements turns an ornate Victorian into a heritage-worthy family home.

When clients approached Bryant Alsop to remodel their 1904 Victorian, they didn’t want the redesign to be slavish to period detail, nor did they want to tear down the house and build anew. "They wanted something unique," says architect Sarah Bryant, who founded the firm in 2008. 

The owner had bought the house from a family friend and visited it often as a child, which meant it was "imbued with fond memories," says Bryant. Therefore, the goal of the project was to preserve that connection while also creating new spaces for the owner’s family of four to grow and evolve. "They saw their role as custodians for future generations, and to also enjoy this home and have formative memories created here for their own family," says Bryant.

The firm retained the roughly 1,400 square feet of the original, single-story Victorian home built in 1904. 

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The new rear, two-story addition adds approximately 2,000 square feet.

To start, a 1980s-era addition was removed to make way for the new design, which encompasses shared living spaces on the main floor, children’s bedrooms upstairs, and a rooftop deck with city views. The lot is a substantial 7,900 square feet, and part of the brief was to avoid over-developing it at the expense of the green space. To that end, the new addition frames the backyard and leaves plenty of room for a pool.

The original Victorian now holds a principle suite with a walk-in closet, a sitting room, a bedroom, and a hall bathroom.

The principle suite retains Victorian details (like the preserved fireplace). It’s positioned at the front of the house, while the children’s spaces are upstairs in the addition, which gives family members privacy.

Large-format porcelain tile wraps the bathroom.

The material palette for the addition was kept simple, both inside and out, in order to emphasize its forms and avoid clashing with the more ornate details of the Victorian. "We wanted the sculptural nature of the design to be prominent and not compete with an overly fussy materials palette," says Bryant. "A simpler palette also allowed the beautiful Victorian details to stand out."

The living room is the meeting point between old and new, marked by the ornate Victorian detail at the threshold.

A sweeping ribbon staircase leads up to the second-floor bedrooms and rooftop deck.

The repeated curved elements—from the tall, cement-rendered columns that band the exterior, to the sweeping ribbon staircase inside the living room—are a subtle reference to the scale and proportions of the Victorian style. "This is a nod to the vertical nature of Victorian buildings, referenced in a more contemporary way," says Bryant.

Polished concrete veneer floors in French Grey from Pangaea run throughout the shared living spaces.

The kitchen backsplash features Yohen Border mosaic tile from Inax. Note the curved shape of the island. The stools are from Normann Copenhagen.

The ceilings in the adjoining kitchen and dining room are defined by porcelain "timber look" tile from Solaris. The curve of the exterior columns carries inside.

Of the exterior cladding, Bryant notes, "Simple brick and cement render were chosen to not compete with the bold and heroic form."

Wide glass apertures connect the living and dining room to the new backyard.

A rooftop deck with spectacular city views was a late addition to the design. "It was challenging to make the design for this work within the over-looking and over-shadowing requirements, but still maximize the outlook," says Bryant. "We look forward to this space ‘greening’ up over time as the steel pergola covers with growing foliage."

Mason House floor plan

Related Reading:

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

11 Amazing Australian Homes 

A Melbourne Home Gains a Gorgeous Glass-Fronted Addition 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Bryant Alsop / @bryant_alsop_architects

Builder: Wade Builders

Structural Engineer: Structural Edge

Landscape Design: Garden Birds / Nicola Musten

Interior Design: Do it by Design

Pool: Falcon Pools