This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Thoroughly Tactile Terrace

Architecture

The terrace house typology is well established in the inner suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, and the renovation of these heritage sites offers medium density living in our populated cities. But the narrow and constricted sites require inventive architectural responses to breathe new life into the dark back corners!

Emlyn Olaver of Olaver Architecture walks us through their North Fitzroy house renovation, where light and materiality bring warmth and tactility to the space.

15th April, 2019

Inside the North Fitzroy terrace renovated by Olaver Architecture. Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Photo – Josh Robenstone.

Miriam McGarry
Monday 15th April 2019

Renovating a Melbourne terrace is no easy feat – the narrow homes are renowned for their dark corridors and difficult flow between spaces. When a young couple with a North Fitzroy terrace approached Emlyn Olaver, of Olaver Architecture, the brief was to update the home to ‘provide a comfortable, warm house with plenty of natural light, made for entertaining, cooking and indoor plants.’

Having worked on eight terrace houses before, Emlyn approached the north facing residence as a site of potential experimentation. The property offered ‘ideal orientation, rear access, and an existing brick boundary wall’. With a view across the surrounding rooftops, and the lights of the nearby footy oval glowing in the distance, Emlyn designed a home that let the outside into the previously cloistered home.

The architect introduced a double height living room, bathed in daylight that spills into the home through the expansive void. In contrast to this generous opening, a low ceiling kitchen and sunken living room provide a cosy, human scale. Stepping down into the living area creates a connection with the backyard, where the floor sits flush to the natural ground level, and brick paving creates a continuous path between inside and out.

The warm timber lined renovation is aesthetically sophisticated and charming, but the real proof of success is in the owners’ experience. With a new baby born JUST after the couple moved in, the clients explain ‘appreciation for the beauty of this house has really gone to another level now we’re spending so much time here. We couldn’t have asked for a better space to spend maternity leave!’ Emlyn has been back to visit several times and can confirm that the indoor plants are also alive and thriving. This tactile house gently but confidently cleaves a new life for the terrace home.

This Week

News

Cult Unveils A Beautiful New Gallery Space In Its Melbourne Showroom

The Fredericia Gallery showcases iconic and timeless pieces from the renowned Danish brand.
Sponsored

On The Market

For Sale: A Clare Cousins Renovated Apartment In An Iconic Melbourne CBD Building!

A bright and breezy apartment in Melbourne's heritage-listed Bible House building. City living doesn't get much better than this!

Homes

A Newly-Built Coastal Home Filled With Character + Colour

From an inner-city Melbourne rental to coastal Anglesea, see how these sea-changers designed and built their dream family home.

Studio Visit

Georgia Spain's Abstract Paintings Capture The Chaos Of Our Times

The Melbourne artist's new exhibition reflects tumultuous world events and news cycles, with a poetic sense of ambiguity.
Christina Karras

At Home With Sheridan

A Unique 1950s Brisbane Home, Transformed To Bring The Outdoors In

Artist Pip Spiro and family's 1950s Brisbane home (with unusual art deco-style features) meets a stunning modern addition embracing lush New...
Lucy Feagins
  18 hours ago

Architecture

An Intriguing Garden House Embedded In Nature By Kennedy Nolan

Hidden beyond a decorative gate is a peaceful new home that feels as though it was there all along - despite having been completed just last...

News

Update Your Outdoor Furniture With A Special Deal From DOMO

Receive a complimentary gift when you shop outdoor furniture at DOMO this October!  
Sponsored

On The Market

A Stylist’s Elegant Carlton North Terrace Hits The Market

Step inside this charming, two-storey Victorian that blends heritage details and contemporary design.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Rambling, Romantic Garden For A Third Generation Farmhouse

A five-acre English-style garden surrounds The Farmstead Tatura owned by a third generation farmer and his partner.

On The Market

A Family's Magical Mid-Century ‘Treehouse’ Is For Sale In Kew East

The beautiful Lodge House in Melbourne's east has been held in the architect's own family for over 60 years – until now!
Christina Karras

News

From Animal Prints to Geometrics, Shop The Latest From Designer Rugs

Introducing the latest additions to Designer Rugs’ ever-growing Saffron collection.
Sponsored

Art

10 Artists Transform Discarded Archaeological Fragments In New Exhibition, 'Unearthed'

Discarded fragments from the Metro Tunnel dig in Melbourne are given new life in Craft Victoria's new exhibition, 'Unearthed'.

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Australian Icon Ken Done For A Nostalgia-Filled Collection

The local homewares brand have teamed up with one of Australia's most iconic artists for a perfectly summery range.
Christina Karras

News

Shop Unique + Discounted Art At Bromley & Co’s Massive Spring Sale!

Acclaimed artist David Bromley’s pieces will be on sale at Bromley & Co’s two Victorian galleries this weekend, with up to 7...
Sponsored

Architecture

A Compact Norwegian Boathouse – In Perth!

'Cabin Haus' by Lahaus brings a taste of Norway to Perth with its charming, boathouse-inspired facade.
Bea Taylor
  10 hours ago

Similar Stories

Architecture

An Anti Open-Plan Home

The 'Light Corridor House' by Figr Architects in Cremorne proves that bigger isn't always better.

Architecture

An East Ballarat Home Inspired By Iconic Australian Architecture

Explore the self-designed vernacular house of architect Nathan Porter.
Miriam McGarry

Architecture

An Understated, Architectural Home That 'Isn’t Up Itself'

The unassuming Pleated House by Megowan Architectural in Highett, Victoria.
Miriam McGarry

This Week

News

Update Your Outdoor Furniture With A Special Deal From DOMO

Receive a complimentary gift when you shop outdoor furniture at DOMO this October!  
Sponsored

Architecture

An Intriguing Garden House Embedded In Nature By Kennedy Nolan

Hidden beyond a decorative gate is a peaceful new home that feels as though it was there all along - despite having been completed just last...

Gardens

A Rambling, Romantic Garden For A Third Generation Farmhouse

A five-acre English-style garden surrounds The Farmstead Tatura owned by a third generation farmer and his partner.

Art

10 Artists Transform Discarded Archaeological Fragments In New Exhibition, 'Unearthed'

Discarded fragments from the Metro Tunnel dig in Melbourne are given new life in Craft Victoria's new exhibition, 'Unearthed'.

Studio Visit

Georgia Spain's Abstract Paintings Capture The Chaos Of Our Times

The Melbourne artist's new exhibition reflects tumultuous world events and news cycles, with a poetic sense of ambiguity.
Christina Karras

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Australian Icon Ken Done For A Nostalgia-Filled Collection

The local homewares brand have teamed up with one of Australia's most iconic artists for a perfectly summery range.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Compact Norwegian Boathouse – In Perth!

'Cabin Haus' by Lahaus brings a taste of Norway to Perth with its charming, boathouse-inspired facade.
Bea Taylor
  10 hours ago

At Home With Sheridan

A Unique 1950s Brisbane Home, Transformed To Bring The Outdoors In

Artist Pip Spiro and family's 1950s Brisbane home (with unusual art deco-style features) meets a stunning modern addition embracing lush New...
Lucy Feagins
  18 hours ago

On The Market

For Sale: A Clare Cousins Renovated Apartment In An Iconic Melbourne CBD Building!

A bright and breezy apartment in Melbourne's heritage-listed Bible House building. City living doesn't get much better than this!

On The Market

A Stylist’s Elegant Carlton North Terrace Hits The Market

Step inside this charming, two-storey Victorian that blends heritage details and contemporary design.
Christina Karras

Homes

A Newly-Built Coastal Home Filled With Character + Colour

From an inner-city Melbourne rental to coastal Anglesea, see how these sea-changers designed and built their dream family home.

News

From Animal Prints to Geometrics, Shop The Latest From Designer Rugs

Introducing the latest additions to Designer Rugs’ ever-growing Saffron collection.
Sponsored

News

Cult Unveils A Beautiful New Gallery Space In Its Melbourne Showroom

The Fredericia Gallery showcases iconic and timeless pieces from the renowned Danish brand.
Sponsored

News

Shop Unique + Discounted Art At Bromley & Co’s Massive Spring Sale!

Acclaimed artist David Bromley’s pieces will be on sale at Bromley & Co’s two Victorian galleries this weekend, with up to 7...
Sponsored

On The Market

A Family's Magical Mid-Century ‘Treehouse’ Is For Sale In Kew East

The beautiful Lodge House in Melbourne's east has been held in the architect's own family for over 60 years – until now!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Architecture

An Anti Open-Plan Home

The 'Light Corridor House' by Figr Architects in Cremorne proves that bigger isn't always better.

Architecture

An East Ballarat Home Inspired By Iconic Australian Architecture

Explore the self-designed vernacular house of architect Nathan Porter.
Miriam McGarry

Architecture

An Understated, Architectural Home That 'Isn’t Up Itself'

The unassuming Pleated House by Megowan Architectural in Highett, Victoria.
Miriam McGarry

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net