A Contemplative Melbourne Home Wraps Around a Garden

A dark exterior gives way to muted, serene interiors in this U-shaped residence by Studiofour.
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For a project located on a greenfield, or a rural plot earmarked for development, Melbourne-based firm Studiofour aimed to make nature central: Mayfield Avenue Residence is a north-facing, U-shaped building that wraps around a central garden with an existing jacaranda tree.

Mayfield Avenue Residence is approached via a paved walkway. The front facade is selectively opaque at the ground floor, while second-floor glazing is protected by privacy screens.

The U-shaped home wraps around a central garden space with an adjacent pool; floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors create a seamless transition from indoors to out.

The client had asked for "an architecture and interior of contrast." The resulting home has a dark exterior that is selectively open to the street and a light, "distinctly warm" interior, as the architects describe. On the ground floor, the facades are solid in some areas and glazed with floor-to-ceiling windows in others, particularly around the garden.

One of the living rooms on the first floor has sliding glass doors on either side. The furniture selection emphasizes the clean lines of the building's exterior, although in a lighter color palette.

The louvers on the upper level of the home provide both privacy and sun shading. 

On the upper floor, however, horizontal screens clad the street-facing facade to "provide privacy from the street below, whilst maximizing interaction with the adjacent landscape," say the architects. The screens direct views throughout the home, orienting residents toward the garden and providing engagement and intimacy within the home in certain spaces. 

In the front yard, an existing jacaranda tree anchors the otherwise new landscape design.

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The kitchen, located in the center of the home, has white millwork and cabinetry that contrast with brick-clad walls.

On the interior, the color palette takes inspiration from the tones of a natural stone that was selected early on in the design process. From it, muted hues ranging from whites and light beiges to rosy pinks and warm taupes were drawn out and emphasized in specific architectural elements including light fixtures, wood flooring, stone countertops in the kitchen and bathroom, and a double-sided brick fireplace.

Both windows and doors in the kitchen provide views of greenery. The kitchen island features the stone that inspired the color palette for the rest of the home's interior.

The floor is covered with wide-plank hardwood in a light tone. Abundant light—enough for interior plants—comes in through an oversize, floor-to-ceiling wall of glass in the dining area.

Light also helped sculpt the home, determining the orientation of two separate living areas which were located to capture northern light. Spaces like the kitchen, dining, and sleeping areas, however, "sought softer light," say the architects. 

The architects avoided typical, open-plan living in favor of separate, calm, and purposeful spaces. This need for separation and acoustic privacy drove the form of the building, while a layered approach of filtered built elements, such as the steel screening and double-sided fireplaces, still facilitates family interaction.

A bell-shaped pendant hangs over the dining table, continuing the warm taupes and beiges found in the double-sided fireplace and wood table and floors.

Together, the natural textures and subtle tones create a careful contrast between the interior and exterior, but both are united in their emphasis on views. 

The refined architectural detailing is finished with natural textures and subtle color shifts, from clay brickwork to rose linen accents, creating a robust yet calming home. 

The bedrooms maintain the color palette established on the lower floor of the home and introduce textures from materials like linen for bedding, curtains, and headboards.

The louvered facade on the north side of the home filters light and provides privacy from the street. Mechanically controlled window shades can be brought down at night for additional privacy and room darkening.

The bathroom features the same stone as the kitchen countertops, providing visual interest in the otherwise white bathroom.

An outdoor shower by the pool has a minimalist faucet with simple, metal, peg-like hooks for hanging towels.

Built-in closets and cabinets in the bedrooms have the same simple, white cabinetry as the kitchen.

Mayfield Avenue Residence first floor plan

Mayfield Avenue Residence second floor plan

More by Studiofour: Before & After: A Fussy ’70s Abode in Melbourne Gets a Hygge-Inspired Overhaul

Project Credits:

Architect of Record & Design Architect: Studiofour / @studiofour
Photography: Shannon McGrath


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