Chef Scott Pickett’s Renovated Bungalow Stars a Dreamy Kitchen

Chef Scott Pickett’s Renovated Bungalow Stars a Dreamy Kitchen

By Michele Koh Morollo
Reworked for an outdoor connection, this Melbourne residence now centers around a bright, spacious kitchen.

The convivial spirit of preparing and sharing meals with others is a big part of their lives, so naturally, well-known Australian chef and restauranteur Scott Pickett and his partner Bec wanted their home to revolve around the kitchen. He hired Melbourne–based studio MRTN Architects to help him alter and extend Rathmines House, an existing Victorian weatherboard home in the suburb of Fairfield. 

MRTN renovated and re-roofed the historic timber bungalow, returned it to its original condition, and added some raised planter boxes in the front yard. 

A large built-in sofa, inspired by the work of  Donald Judd, divides the kitchen from the living room while still allowing a visual connection.

The original 1,324-square-foot house suffered from a poor layout. A lean-to in the back housed the living spaces to the south, and the laundry and bathrooms were situated in the north. The only connection to the backyard was a narrow corridor. 

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Restaurant-style banquette seating extends from the kitchen bench, wrapping around the end of the addition and above. 

The timber windows and doors are by Charles Sandford. 

To open up the space and improve circulation, MRTN replaced the lean-to with north-facing living spaces, then created a connection from the front of the house to the green spaces of the rear garden. 

From the garden, the new extension was designed as a pair of interlocking volumes—a pitched, timber-clad wing that overlaps a smaller mass of salvaged brick. 

A steel pergola creates an outdoor living space; in the summer, grape vines climb up to create a lush canopy.

The expanded, redesigned, 1,775-square-feet house has an L-shaped floor plan with the kitchen located in a central position between the living ad dining spaces. Adjacent to the living area is a flexible study/guest bedroom. This space was fitted with a floor-to-ceiling, surface-mounted sliding door that can be closed for more privacy.

American Oak timber flooring and a built-in sofa add continuity throughout the home.

The kitchen is outfitted with appliances from Vzug.

Between the kitchen and the living room is an oversized, built-in sofa that was inspired by the furniture designs of American artist Donald Judd. 

This 12.1-foot long sofa provides generous seating for the entire family, and also acts as a partial-height boundary wall that separates the kitchen and living area, while still maintaining a visual and physical connection between the two spaces. 

Square Vogue Ceramica tiles give the bathroom a graphic punch.

"When guests come to visit, the counter-height top to the sofa also provides a handy space to rest your elbow or drink, as others are busy in the kitchen," says MRTN principal Anthony Martin, who included over-scaled windows to frames views of the trees outdoors.

"The kitchen itself is generously proportioned, relative to the modest scale of the project, and is centered on the solid Spotted Gum countertop of the kitchen island," says Martin.

In the fulcrum between the two volumes is a painted steel pergola that’s set on a base of salvaged brick to create a seasonal outdoor room. In summer, this outdoor room is covered in overgrown grape vines, and in winter, it’s left bare to allow the low winter sun deep into the living spaces within.  

Rathmines House floor plan

Rathmines House sectional drawing

Project Credits: 

Architecture: MRTN Architects / @antmartarch

Builder: Lew Building 

Structural engineering: Deery Consulting   

Photography: Tatjana Plitt

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