I guess it's every young architect's dream to design their very own house from scratch - especially after creating so many dream homes for other people! For Emilio Fuscaldo of NEST architects and his partner, Anna Krien, a writer, this opportunity presented itself in a rather unexpected way.
After almost losing hope of securing a piece of land in their favourite pocket of Melbourne, an unusual opportunity presented itself. Basically, they found someone keen to subdivide their large residential block in the inner North - essentially Emilio and Anna bought their backyard! The result is a hidden secret in the backstreets of Coburg - a unique, cleverly designed home tucked neatly behind an existing double fronted Californian Bungalow. The new structure isn't visible from the street, and can be accessed via a rear laneway. How superbly modern and efficient is THAT!?
Emilio and Anna purchased their perfect pocket of land at Auction in April 2010. By October their design was complete - after much deliberation they settled on a two bedroom home constructed in reclaimed red bricks with hardwood details, timber door frames and polished concrete throughout. Of course being the home of an architect, the house faces North (!!) and takes in bucket loads of natural light, with a simple, open plan design reminiscent of a 1960's beach house.
'Anna was adamant that we had to live somewhere with big North-facing windows and plenty of heating' says Emilio, who responded with a design that incorporates underfloor heating in the slab (SO toasty!). 'We both wanted something pretty small and cosy, with a bit of a mid-century feel' says Emilio. 'Anna hates losing stuff behind cupboard doors, so we had to avoid the usual kitchen cupboard scenario' explains Emilio, who instead opted for open shelves and storage where possible. The pair selected red bricks as a reference to Emilio's Italian 'maintenance free' heritage!
Emilio recalls it took about nine months to secure finance for their build, which eventually commenced in winter 2011. Prior to building, Emilio roped in a few mates to dig a 35m trench from the street to the house. 'We put gas, water, stormwater, telephone and electricity pipes in the trench - and I had four visits to a physiotherapist as a result' says Emilio! Nice one. Definitely worth it!
The home was completed late last year, and in early December Emilio and Anna finally moved in. They share the home with Mowgli (super cute puppy) and Puska (the cat), plus a menagerie of 'walk-throughs' - local cats and random chickens can often be found wandering their yard, whilst the original landowner still lives in her house on the front section of the block, with her four daughters, two dogs and a cat. Emilio and Anna love the community feel of their new neighbourhood - 'Our neighbours lean over the fence and give us tomatoes, our other neighbours have a walnut tree which rains sweet nuts throughout the year, and we often get visits from kids in the street who want to pat the cat and play with the dog'.
Of course, as it's a custom design and still very new, Anna and Emilio are pretty love-struck by their new surroundings! Anna loves the morning light through the front door and highlight windows, and she's also obsessed with the floor heating in the concrete slab. (It was freezing during our visit, and I can attest to the wonders of the underfloor heating!). Emilio is very proud of the fact that everything in the house comes with a story from a previous life. 'The kitchen is an old workbench, the pantry is an old cobblers storage unit, the walls are made from recycled bricks, and the kitchen and bathroom sinks were rescued from a house being demolished in Sydney' he says.
MASSIVE thanks to Emilio and Anna for sharing their very special home with us today! If you love it, chances are you'll also love Emilio's other residential work - do pop over to the NEST architects website for a snoop at some of his other projects!
Thanks also to YOU, excellent readers, for popping by to visit us on ANZAC day! We salute you. We would also like to remind you that there are just six days left to enter our rather special Facebook / Jardan giveaway...! Simply LIKE us on Facebook and follow the prompts to enter - a winner will be drawn on Monday!