Remember the days when children and their neighbours played on the street after school? While this might feel like a distant memory right now, it is a big part of what drew Catherine Keating’s to this close knit neighbourhood in Northcote. The public health professional and her husband Chris recognised this tight community feel from the outset when visiting their future home – a lifestyle they were seeking for their growing family. ‘On our first inspection, young kids from the street were practicing songs for the street Christmas party outside our (future) house. That was it!’ Catherine says.
The couple moved into this Edwardian house in 2012 when their daughter Magnolia (now 8 years old) was a baby, and while Catherine was pregnant with Holly (now 7). Five years later, they decided to renovate, engaging Clare Cousins Architects to design the project.
The brief to the architects was for a light-filled house with lofty ceilings and contrasting natural materials. The idea was to strike the perfect balance between practical and beautiful, with nothing too ‘noisy’. Catherine says, ‘We demolished an old lean-to, built a new space at the rear orientated to catch the north light, and gave the existing Edwardian building some love.’
A delightful detail is the new dining nook, which Catherine says was designed to ‘replicate the feeling when you are lucky enough to get allocated the bench seating at your local cafe!’ Added character has been introduced through the styling, including many treasured pieces from the family’s travels. ‘Can you ever have too many small bowls?’ Catherine asks. (No!)
The garden was also fully redesigned by Kate Patterson (KPLA) during renovations to facilitate a closer connection between indoors and out. Catherine finds particular beauty in the quiet tangle of textured natives.
The exterior of the new build is painted with Dulux Colorbond Surfmist (‘It’s a great colour – a bit of a chameleon that changes colour with the day,’ says Catherine), whilst the original Edwardian façade is Dulux Whisper White, and the interior is Natural White.
To this day, the friendly neighbourhood location (a cul-de-sac where it’s okay to block the road for children to play!) remains one of Catherine’s favourite things about this home. Her connection with the house itself has become deeper and more emotional as a result of COVID-19, with every room taking on a new job. ‘The house has needed to be flexible lately suddenly with two parents working at home and two kids learning at home,’ Catherine says. ‘I am grateful for the sanctuary, and my focus has shifted to find joy and comfort in the small things.’