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

Studio Visit

This Cheerful New Textile + Homewares Label Brings The Sunshine We Need Right now!

Hannah Veikkanen used Melbourne's extended lockdowns to develop and launch her own textile label, creating handtufted cushions and artwork f...

News

A Delicious New Book For Living A Kinder, More Gentle Life

Chef Annie Smithers shares wisdom, memories and recipes in her new book, ‘Recipe for a Kinder Life’.

Architecture

A Spacious Renovation That Makes The Most Of Every Inch

Built-in furniture has unlocked the potential of this Victorian home renovation in Fitzroy North by Architecture Architecture.

Stays

A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

Las Palmas by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects is a Byron Bay hinterland home inspired by the owner's upbringing in Robin...

Homes

Poppy Garbin + Scott Gibson Of Pop And Scott’s Dromana Dream Home

The renovated '80s home of Scott Gibson and Poppy Garbin, founders of Pop and Scott.
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

On The Market

The Perfect Architect-Designed Family Home Is On The Market

The Kingsville House by Olaver Architecture is potentially the closest thing there is to a perfect family house. And it could be yours!
Sasha Aarons

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +

Gardens

A Beautiful New Life For A Generous Family Garden

The Haberfield Garden by Fieldwork Associates in Sydney unites multiple green zones under a canopy of excitement + abundance!

On The Market

A Historic Italianate Mansion Hits The Market In Kew

Built in 1889, Ross House (formerly called Charleville), is a heritage-protected Italianate mansion in Kew designed by local architect Henry...
15.15

Food

Julia's Pillowy Ricotta Tortelli With Butter And Asparagus

It's asparagus season and Julia Busuttil Nishimura has the best pasta recipe for this sweet, seasonal stalk!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Creative People

The Earthy, Abstract Art Of Asha Holmes

Inside the textured, tonal and intuitive practice of a Northern Beaches-based painter whose star is well and truly on the rise!

Building Better

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Builder

Where do you find a good builder? How long will it take them to build my house? How much will it cost? We answer these FAQs more.

Architecture

The Australian Architects Designing New Houses For An Affordable Flat Fee

Purchase environmentally-friendly, architectural house plans for an affordable flat fee by new Australian business, Architopia.

Interiors

How To Make Wallpaper Work!

Lauren Li of Sisällä Interior Design shares her tips and tricks for wallpaper that really works - and where to get it!
Lauren Li

View Comments

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

On The Market

A Historic Italianate Mansion Hits The Market In Kew

Built in 1889, Ross House (formerly called Charleville), is a heritage-protected Italianate mansion in Kew designed by local architect Henry...
15.15

Food

Julia's Pillowy Ricotta Tortelli With Butter And Asparagus

It's asparagus season and Julia Busuttil Nishimura has the best pasta recipe for this sweet, seasonal stalk!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Gardens

A Beautiful New Life For A Generous Family Garden

The Haberfield Garden by Fieldwork Associates in Sydney unites multiple green zones under a canopy of excitement + abundance!

Stays

A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

Las Palmas by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects is a Byron Bay hinterland home inspired by the owner's upbringing in Robin...

Building Better

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Builder

Where do you find a good builder? How long will it take them to build my house? How much will it cost? We answer these FAQs more.

Creative People

The Earthy, Abstract Art Of Asha Holmes

Inside the textured, tonal and intuitive practice of a Northern Beaches-based painter whose star is well and truly on the rise!

Architecture

The Australian Architects Designing New Houses For An Affordable Flat Fee

Purchase environmentally-friendly, architectural house plans for an affordable flat fee by new Australian business, Architopia.
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

Studio Visit

This Cheerful New Textile + Homewares Label Brings The Sunshine We Need Right now!

Hannah Veikkanen used Melbourne's extended lockdowns to develop and launch her own textile label, creating handtufted cushions and artwork f...

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +

Homes

Poppy Garbin + Scott Gibson Of Pop And Scott’s Dromana Dream Home

The renovated '80s home of Scott Gibson and Poppy Garbin, founders of Pop and Scott.

On The Market

The Perfect Architect-Designed Family Home Is On The Market

The Kingsville House by Olaver Architecture is potentially the closest thing there is to a perfect family house. And it could be yours!
Sasha Aarons

News

A Delicious New Book For Living A Kinder, More Gentle Life

Chef Annie Smithers shares wisdom, memories and recipes in her new book, ‘Recipe for a Kinder Life’.

Interiors

How To Make Wallpaper Work!

Lauren Li of Sisällä Interior Design shares her tips and tricks for wallpaper that really works - and where to get it!
Lauren Li

Architecture

A Spacious Renovation That Makes The Most Of Every Inch

Built-in furniture has unlocked the potential of this Victorian home renovation in Fitzroy North by Architecture Architecture.

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.