12 Mullet Homes in Melbourne That Are Modern in the Back
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12 Mullet Homes in Melbourne That Are Modern in the Back

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By Melissa Dalton
These homes present a traditional face to the neighborhood, but the rear facade is a different story.

These modern mullet renovations across Melbourne and its suburbs fit their homeowners’ needs without sacrificing historic facades and the character of the neighborhood.

A Modern, Steel-and-Glass Extension Blends Old and New 

Architects Preston Lane tucked this modern, steel-and-glass extension behind the roofline of a 1915 Edwardian-era house. 

Heritage details were kept intact to reference the home’s original character.

A steel-and-glass extension hosts the main living spaces and flows into the backyard.

The architects highlighted, rather than hid, the contrasts between the old construction and new. For instance, the backdrop in the new kitchen is the former exterior red brick wall. 

A 100-Year-Old House With an Elegant, Double-Height Addition

When it came time to renovate his own Port Melbourne home, Dominic Pandolfini of Pandolfini Architects had a clear goal: "Despite the constraints of a long narrow site, we wanted to create some generous spaces that had a sense of drama," says Pandolfini.

To do so, he retained the front façade of his 100-year-old home.

The firm then combined a palette of steel, concrete, and oak in the elegant, double-height rear addition. 

Tall steel-and-glass doors open to the backyard and bring some understated drama.

Home and Garden Merge Through a Sleek Add-On

Zen Architects designs a 1,453-square-foot addition for an existing Victorian home sited in the Botanic Gardens precinct of inner Melbourne, with the goal that the extension would "utilize the concepts of living in a garden and gathering under a roof," says the firm.

The front facade and 538-square-feet of the original home, built around 1900, was kept intact.

Double-height glass now lets the communal living areas spill out onto an exterior courtyard.

A Curving, Rammed-Earth Extension Rounds Out a Bungalow

When the homeowners of this 1930s bungalow realized they needed more living space for their growing family and long-term house guests, they turned to Steffen Welsch Architects for a creative, sustainably minded solution. The firm fashioned a rammed-earth wing that curves off the back of the house and curves along the edge of the narrow city lot.

"The original Californian bungalow was advertised as ‘quiet at the end of a cul-de-sac.’ We wanted to change that," said Welsch. The new home is divided into four zones, with the existing bungalow now dedicated to children and guests with two bedrooms, a playroom, and bathrooms. "Every zone has its own outdoor space," said Welsch; the front room opens onto the front yard.

"A well-performing house extension facing south on a small inner-city block built in rammed earth is not easy to achieve," said Welsch. "However, in this challenge was our opportunity: We decided that our extension will curl around to capture the sun, creating a communal courtyard and allowing the occupants to look at their own house rather than a paling fence."

In Albert Park, an Added Volume Seems to Hover Behind a Victorian Cottage

In order to create space for new shared living spaces and an upper floor master suite, BG Architecture inserted a gabled roof volume behind the original home, then clad it in metal and perforated screens for privacy from the alleyway.

From the front, this quaint Victorian cottage appears as it always has, hugging the street and alleyway. As you approach, a quiet addition is revealed beyond.

The new rear addition overlooks an exterior courtyard.

A 1960s Home With an Addition Inspired by Caravan Tents

In the Melbourne suburb of Pascoe Vale, BENT Architecture drew on the form and feel of a caravan tent to expand a 1960s home and bring in natural light and ventilation. 

The original main house.

The new addition opens the interiors to the garden with floor-to-ceiling windows and easy access to the yard.

A Historic Home in Princess Hill Gets a Restrained, Timber-Clad Addition 

Tom Robertson Architects deftly tack on a timber-clad volume to a historic home in the suburb of Princess Hill, so as not to compete with the home’s original character. "This was more respectful of the beautiful heritage house," says Robertson.

Despite the rear facade's contemporary design, the heritage details on the front of the house were retained and restored.

Robertson restored the existing rooms in the front of the original house, and redesigned the back of the home to have a much more modern, indoor/outdoor living experience.

A Dramatic, Geometric Expansion for a 19th-Century Terrace House

An ornate, heritage home once built for a 19th-century financier named Samuel Lazarus is contrasted with a bold and geometric expansion from Andrew Simpson Architects.

The ornate facade of the renovated, 6,130-square-foot Haterlie was restored, while the architects demolished the mid-20th century additions to the center of the property and a section of an old "stable" near the rear boundary.

"The geometry creates varied spatial experiences—expansion and contraction horizontally and vertically—reinforcing the series of stepped courtyards," says architect Andrew Simpson.

A Curvaceous Addition to a 1904 Victorian

Firm Bryant Alsop infuses a Victorian with bold, curved elements to fashion a striking rear addition that preserves the original structure and prioritizes the yard.

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

The new rear, two-story addition adds over 2,000 square feet of living space without sacrificing the backyard. The repetition of the curved elements, such as the tall, cement-rendered columns that band the exterior, are a subtle reference to the scale and proportions of the Victorian style.

A Two-Story Extension Connects Family to Community

Gardiner Architects flips the script by putting the shared living spaces in a rear extension, adding an entry in a side lane for neighbor access, and creating easy indoor/outdoor flow for informal social gatherings. "In terms of this single residential project, a focus on community set foundations for a house to avoid being a primarily internalized experience," says the firm.

Gardiner Architects clad the bungalow in timber shiplap and sheet metal. "The external form of the Californian bungalow had the defining feature of the typical gabled roof," says the firm. "The roof of the new section takes the vernacular form of the gables offset from the retained roof. We liked this sensitive approach that saw the new extension not dominating the existing. In a sense, it could've always been there."

The two-story addition as seen from the back. A green roof provides extra gardening space for the family, who loves to be connected to their neighborhood.

A pass-through window at the sink connects to the yard and makes for easy entertaining.

A Pink-Hued Corridor Connects Old and New in a Semi-Detached Victorian Worker’s Cottage

In the suburb of Cremorne, architect Michael Artemenko, co-director of FIGR Architecture Studio, utilizes a fuchsia-painted hall to link up the preserved portion of his semi-detached Victorian worker's cottage to a light-filled rear addition.

The journey through the dark tunnel to the new, light-filled addition is both a texturally interesting and atmospheric experience, where the contrast between old and new, dark and light, can be felt.

A Tetris-Like Addition to an Ascot Vale Bungalow

For this 484-square-foot rear add-on, dubbed the Tetris Extension, architect and photographer Jaime Diaz-Berrio paired up with architect Mark Allan of Crosshatch to combine strong, interlocking shapes to incorporate a new bedroom, bathroom, and central living lounge.

Although the orientation of the site was not ideal as the extension faces south, the strategic location of the addition and high-level kitchen window draws sunlight deep into the space in winter, while the deep window reveals restricts sunlight penetration in the summer months.

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