A clever addition to a Victorian house maximizes light and space.
How do you get direct northern light into a dark Victorian house on a south-facing lot? MAKE Architects accomplished the task in the Northcote neighborhood of Melbourne by adding an M-shaped addition that draws the sun deep into the dwelling. "The living spaces are now bathed in light in winter and the deep timber lined eave excludes the summer sun,” lead architect Melissa Bright says.
The extension sits on the property’s north side. Its zig-zag shape is a continuation (and reinterpretation) of the more traditional double hip roof of the existing house. The new construction combines Shadowclad boards, a Lysaght Longline steel roof, and Blackbutt eucalyptus decking.
The old house had suffered several lean-to additions over the years that darkened the interior; these were removed to let in more light. Altogether, the architects retained 818 square feet of the original house and added on another 1,055 square feet, bringing the home’s total imprint to 1,873 square feet.
The roof’s geometric shape helps the interior feel more expansive than it is. Messmate timber floorboards and painted ceiling boards follow the lines of its double hip and draw the eyes upward. Powder-coated black aluminum window frames also accentuate its form. “We like the contrast of the white space with the gutsy black frames,” Bright says.
The architects pulled away the roof at the house’s center to create a courtyard where the residents can enjoy meals. The ground sits below floor level, which means that the wraparound eucalyptus deck can also serve as a bench.
MAKE built the recycled messmate cabinets in the kitchen and paired them with stone Italiana countertops. Company architect Bruce Rowe also designed the backsplash tiles and pendant lights through his side business, Anchor Ceramics. “We like the handmade quality [of the tiles] and love that they also match the lights Bruce made for the project,” Bright says. Appliances are by Siemens and fixtures by Duravit.
Thanks to the extra space, the clients were able to bring their baby grand piano out of storage. It now sits in the main room, overhung by Mega Bulb pendants from Great Dane.
The house’s unique Victorian-era fireplaces had been obscured over the years with mock surrounds. The architects stripped them bare to “reveal their materiality,” as Bright explains.
For the bathroom, the architects designed a clever tub that can serve as a shower, too. “Curved bath edges are not great to stand in so we wanted it to have a flat base,” Bright says. “We also didn't like that you would have to step over the edge of the bath to get in the shower. The solution to this was to sink it down.” The light is by Tub Design and fixtures by Duravit.