Architects Amy Hallett and Darren Kaye lived in their modest South Melbourne home for five years before taking a leap of faith, and knocking it down 2.5 years ago.
The original Victorian home had been modernised in the late 1950’s. ’The old house was rather the odd bod on the street, and virtually nothing remaining from the original Victorian facade’ recalls Amy.
However, despite its quirks, the pair were keen to retain a few key features in their new design. ‘We loved that the previous owners had moved the kitchen from the typical position at the back of the house, to the front, where it caught the morning sun and engaged with the street’ Amy recalls. ‘They were responding to some of the shortcomings that so many Victorian cottages typically suffer from, that is having the living areas at the back of the house regardless of orientation. We lived in the old house for five years and loved living with the kitchen at the front of the house. This was the starting point for the design of the new home, and led to the introduction of the courtyard into the centre of the house.’
Working collaboratively, Amy and Darren have created a clever 3 bedroom + study home that feels understated, and consistent with the surrounding streetscape. ‘The original home was heritage listed but the condition was so poor that it could not be saved’ says Amy. ‘Our design was considered by Council to be of high architectural merit and so they lifted the heritage listing, enabling us to build a new home’.
Based just one street back from the beach, the bright and breezy family home takes its design cues from relaxed ‘beach house’ styling, with a neutral, pared back materials palette. ‘Aesthetically the old house always had the feeling of a beach shack, and we wanted to achieve a similar relaxed atmosphere in the new home’ Amy explains. And, with two young kids in residence (Millie , 5 and Thomas, 1) robust materials were selected to ensure longevity – from hardwood cladding, to burnished concrete and terrazzo floors, oak, and bagged recycled brickwork.
Thanks to the cleverly designed internal courtyard, every room connects to the outside, maximising space, and ventilation throughout. Like all great architectural projects, though, first and foremost, this home is all is about light. ‘The light in the house is beautiful, in the middle of winter it is flooded with sunlight, and in the summer it is filtered, dappled and soft’ Amy explains. ‘It is complex and constantly changing.’