Heritage in the front, modern in the back—this renovation by FMD Architects is a family home with character.
From the front, this Melbourne heritage home just looks like a simple, suburban Australian cottage with a standard gable roof. But the back? Well, the back tells a whole different story.
The modernist extension is a brutalism-inspired beauty, featuring a charred-wood-and-glass volume split neatly into two halves. It’s two-faced architecture, if you will—but together, the two sides tell one beautiful design story.
"The homeowners loved their morning light," says FMD principal Fiona Dunin. "And all of the strategies were ultimately driven by that."
Charged with a let-the-light-in renovation and extension, FMD Architects dubbed the 1,937-square-foot home Split House to honor its beautiful dichotomy between old and new, darkness and light.
A slice through the apex creates a gap that allows for windows down the center. Light now pours into the main bedroom and living space, while the new extension’s kitchen and dining spaces make the most of northern daylight.
The original floor plan featured four bedrooms, but Dunin cleverly reconfigured the layout to squeeze in even more functionality. Now, the same square footage has four bedrooms plus two bathrooms, a new walk-in closet, and a laundry room.
Inside, materials are, for the most part, simple and economical. The floors are basic polished concrete and timber. In the kitchen, simple white-laminate cabinet fronts are hung alongside Tasmanian oak veneer doors. Flat white tiles, installed vertically, create a minimalist, grid-like backsplash.
But among these humble finishes, there are moments of playfulness, too, that embrace that "split" idea through the use of mixed materials or shapes. "It’s this idea of multiple personalities, a nod to the four distinct characters who live in this house," explains Dunin.
The kitchen island is held up by a mirrored block on one side, and a terrazzo block on the other. In the bathroom, two distinct cabinets—one wood, one mirrored—create a whole. "We like to take that big architectural idea and bring it inside," says Dunin