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.
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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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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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