A 'Joyful House' on Geelong's Outskirts

This bright, cheerful home on Geelong’s outskirts is home to Mathew Dickens and Zytel Hircoe, along with their three kids Ashton (8 yrs), Harvey (6 yrs) and Matea (4 yrs), as well as Kimba the dog and Sphinx the cat!

Cleverly renovated and extended by Mihaly Slocombe Architects, this relaxed family home is joyful in more ways than one.


Lucy Feagins

Inside the family home of Mathew Dickens and Zytel Hircoe. Photo – Tatjana Plitt. Styling – PIP+COOP.

Located in the Geelong suburb of Rippleside, the original double-fronted, weatherboard Edwardian cottage has been renovated by Mihaly Slocombe Architects. Photo – Tatjana Plitt. Styling – PIP+COOP.

Mathew and Zytel wanted a new, playful living area to suit their young family. Photo – Tatjana Plitt. Styling – PIP+COOP.

The new addition is one grand room, comprising kitchen, meals, living and a retreat. Photo – Tatjana Plitt. Styling – PIP+COOP.

Mathew Dickens and Zytel Hircoe with their daughter Matea (4). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The new living/kitchen area hero’s the Dulux paint colour ‘Joyful’ which is also where the project gets its name.  The rest of the house (except external trims) are painted in ‘Natural White’, with external trims in ‘Woodland Grey’. Photo – Tatjana Plitt. Styling – PIP+COOP.

Connection from the old to new parts of the house. Photo – Tatjana Plitt. Styling – PIP+COOP.

Functional family bathroom. Photo – Tatjana Plitt. Styling – PIP+COOP.

The home’s Edwardian facade. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Lucy Feagins
11th of October 2017

The Dickens / Hircoe family relocated from Melbourne to Geelong five years ago, and initially struggled to find a home they really felt a connection to. ‘The more we looked at houses, the more we fell in love with Rippleside, which narrowed our search down to a very small area.’ Zytel recalls. Eventually, they decided on a  weatherboard cottage, knowing it would need significantly updating at some point to cater for their growing family.

In 2013, they turned to Mihaly Slocombe Architects to re-work their home, hoping for more space, more light, and a greater connection to the garden. ‘Mat and I had no idea what we were doing, but we had to extend/renovate’ recalls Zytel. ‘I’ve been friends with Erica since I was in grade 2, so there wasn’t a question about who we should use. We were extremely busy with our three little kids… we put our complete trust in Mihaly Slocombe from start to finish’.

Project architects Warwick Mihaly, Erica Slocombe and Jake Taylor retained four original bedrooms but opened up the rear of the house, adding a huge new room with a dramatically sloping roof to connect the original house to the garden, and draw in bucketloads of natural light. Towards the back garden, a new deck was designed, covered with translucent fibreglass.  Upon completion, the property was nicknamed ‘Joyful House’ by the architects, taking its name from the distinctive Dulux yellow used throughout.

Despite its obvious aesthetic appeal and Pinteresty-worthy palette, for the Dickens / Hircoe family, its the simple, user-friendly details that make this house a joy to live in.  ‘After living in the house for 12 months we love it all!’ says Zytel. ‘There are so many different elements that work so well for our family of five’.

In fact, it was architect Erica Slocombe who insisted on the inclusion of a few key elements, specifically with the kids in mind. ‘Erica comes from a large family and said straight away ‘you need a large laundry’ recalls Zytel. ‘This space allows me to keep any mess out of view, I have room for my clothes horses in winter, soaking buckets, picnic baskets, kids school bags, etc etc!’. This, and other simple considerations, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen, are what takes this home beyond just ‘beautiful’, into the realm of proper, real-life dream home!

Recent Renovated