A Humble 70s Townhouse Gets A Contemporary Shake-Up

Lisa Breeze is a bit of an overachiever. An architect specialising in residential design, Lisa worked at Neil Architecture before going out on her own almost five years ago. It was about that time that she also found and bought her 1970s dream home in North Fitzroy, and decided to embark on renovations. Talk about multi-tasking!

Since then, while Lisa’s practice has been thriving, she and her husband (along with their two dogs) have been slowly chipping away at their ambitious personal project. The result is a bright and quirky townhouse that feels contemporary, while retaining the best bits of the original 1970s vibe.

Sally Tabart

Inside the renovation (that was four years in the making!) of architect Lisa Breeze’s North Fitzroy townhouse. The new elements fit comfortably and efficiently into the old shell, and the space looks onto the ever-changing garden ‘room’. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

Marble-topped kitchen benches and bold, blue-paneled joinery featuring blonde-wood handles from IN-ERTIA. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

‘Our vintage kitchen table was an early eBay triumph, combined with comfy and classic chairs from Thonet,’ says Lisa. Pendant from Cocoflip. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

New steel-blue kitchen joinery (which also triples as the laundry and garden shed – now that’s some serious space saving!). Ceramics from Ghost Wares. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

Bold and playful Bridie Gillman painting looking over the piece de resistance of this room – that fluffy Baxter armchair! Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

Roll and Hill wall light and re-covered couch. ‘Leather is the perfect fabric for pet-proofing,’ says Lisa, the mum of two pooches! Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

The staircase in its original and raw 70s state. ‘Beautiful but totally non-compliant with today’s standards.’ admits Lisa! Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

‘The striking and simple original staircase is the perfect perch for our ever reliable security system – “Mr Darcy, The Westie”,’ says Lisa. We need one of those security systems! Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

The bedroom – soft linen on linen on linen. Bed by Jardan and dreamy painting from Marisa Purcell. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

Classic 70s wall paneling popping with artwork from Louise Tuckwell. Lamp is from Jielde and the desk is from Hay. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling –Tamara Maynes.

Sally Tabart
1st of March 2018

With a knack for reinventing old abodes to suit the day-to-day needs of their modern occupants, architect Lisa Breeze is well versed in responding to client briefs, feedback and expectations. But it’s a whole different story when you’re your own client! ‘It’s definitely a different process – mulling over ideas whilst you live in the space,’ Lisa tells us, ‘the major element that is missing with an architect’s own project is client feedback!’.

Still Lisa forged ahead, starting with the easier parts like replacing carpet, refitting robes, and landscaping, and then tackling the biggest part – the kitchen and living area. Perhaps it was her own lived experience in the home that sparked the confidence to take bold risks, such as the steel-blue cabinetry and bright punches of colour throughout the space. ‘The humble, original building elements are an ideal backdrop for more adventurous new injections,’ says Lisa.

While for the most part all spaces remain in their original locations, the clunky kitchen that ate up precious space was re-worked to better suit the open flow of the townhouse. Cues were taken from salvaged building elements, such as the retro timber wall panelling, painted bricks, and the exposed floor structure. One of Lisa’s favourite parts of the home is the tiny garden, acting ‘primarily as an outdoor room to gaze on, and as an extension of the living space to be enjoyed when the Melbourne weather lets us!’ she says!

For Lisa, the reward of this project has been two-fold. From initially finding the property, envisioning the redesign and the satisfaction of bringing it to life,
‘but best of all is living in it and experiencing the day-to-day results,’ Lisa reflects, ‘now that it’s finished our feet are itchy and we’ll be keen to move on to the next project!’ We told you; Lisa Breeze is a bit of an overachiever!

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