When Anja de Spa, director of Molecule Studio first visited this two-bedroom ground level apart in the Art-Deco ‘Otway’ block in Hawthorn, she was met with ‘a 90-year-old building well overdue for a birthday.’ The owners wanted to restore the interior back to its 1930s glory, and rectify the 1980s cream and yellow makeover. The brief was to champion the grandeur of the past, while also improving circulation and overhauling the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and introduce new storage.
Anja explains that the design approach was informed by ‘responding to heritage conditions, to design new insertions with respect of, rather than a replication of the past.’ The clients discovered that their home was designed by the architects of the Rivoli theatre (H. Vivian Taylor, Soilleux and Overend) in Camberwell, and were ‘keen to ensure that this spirit was not lost.’ The renovations focused on the kitchen as the heart of the home, to reflect the owner’s love of cooking, with the freestanding stove as centrepiece. The layout echoes that of a commercial kitchen, with a series of functional joinery ‘stations’ each with its own designated use.
The interiors maintain and preserve the home’s original hard plaster mouldings and timber work, while also adding subtle references to the Art Deco style with details of curves, chambers and rebates in the new joinery. Newly introduced materials include Ironbark timber, terrazzo slabs, tonal laminate, glazed ceramics, and fluted glass. The rich hues of the rosewood mid-century furniture and the soft green tones in a Brook Holm photograph have informed the colour scheme.
The clients also have a family history in the ceramics industry, so the architects introduced this personal history into the home with glazed ceramic wall tiles by Classic Ceramics and Artedomus, and a handmade ceramic basin by Tasmanian ceramicist Lindsey Wherrett.
With the arrival of a new baby just a few weeks after handover, the owners can enjoy a home that makes clever use of the entire 85sqm footprint, the introduction of new storage, a functional kitchen, and a beautiful space informed by history.