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

An Architectural Gem, Designed Around An Oak Tree

Architecture

Many people dream of having a grand old tree in their backyard, but they can sometimes throw up challenges!

The owners of this Fitzroy North home certainly didn’t want to remove their property’s beloved tree, but wanted a house and garden that better embraced the oak in all its glory, without impacting the dwelling.

Kennedy Nolan stepped in to devise a careful reworking of the existing Victorian house, which now feels embedded in its accompanying Amanda Oliver designed garden. 

10th December, 2020

Large format sliding doors open to the garden. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The incredible oak tree stands proudly alongside the home. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Terracotta tiles and red oxidised steel on the exterior. Photo – Derek Swalwell

A steel brise-soleil performs many functions, including sun shading.Photo – Derek Swalwell

‘It was obvious for us from the start that the kitchen should always remain the heart of their home,’ says Rachel Nolan. Photo – Derek Swalwell

A new courtyard is bound by sitting rooms at either end, with the long edge incorporating the kitchen and dining room. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The interiors range from the dramatic to the tranquil, using concentrations of colour in varying intensities. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Terracotta tiles feature inside and out. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The interiors are wonderfully unique. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The ‘muscular’ concrete roof. Photo – Derek Swalwell

‘In this home there is a concerted effort to restrain expressive excess, maintain formal and material cohesion, resist the conventional, and most importantly, amplify a sense of joyousness,’ says Rachel. Photo – Derek Swalwell

All rooms have garden aspects. Photo – Derek Swalwell

One seriously amazing bathroom! Photo – Derek Swalwell

The project makes use of the deep site, and better benefit from its sunny north orientation. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The original Victorian entrance. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 10th December 2020

‘Our clients now live happily with this most remarkable tree.’ – Rachel Nolan

Having a mature oak tree in your backyard is a coveted gift, but also something to be carefully managed. 

Prior to a recent alterations and additions project by Kennedy Nolan, this Fitzroy North home was experiencing all the cons of such trees, but few of the benefits.

‘The oak tree is very tall, and living under it was hard for our clients. They fought hard to keep the noisy brushtail possums out of it, and they struggled to grow any garden under it,’ explains Rachel Nolan, founding director of Kennedy Nolan. ‘In fact, given the height of this beauty, they really couldn’t see it at all from their home. The neighbourhood could enjoy it, but they really could tolerate it at best. This situation needed to change.’

Kennedy Nolan went back to the drawing board to address the problem, reworking the elements that make a domestic environment functional and dignified: zoning, acoustics, privacy, aspect and comfort. 

Their response was to reconfigure the existing double-fronted Victorian house to feature a new pavilion forming a central courtyard, a garage and workshop building to the rear laneway, and a small swimming pool. A north-facing upper storey was also added, providing private accommodation for the client’s two boys.

Not only does this new upper storey provide more space and a better outlook to the tree, the elevation with its brise-soleil provides a backdrop to the central courtyard. ‘As such it needed to form a cohesive and singular backdrop, but also accommodate complex, ventilated glazing for a variety of rooms and provide sun shading and privacy from below and above,’ says Rachel. 

The oxidised red colour on the steel elements gives the home a clear visual identity, complementing the terracotta tiles. 

As a result of Kennedy Nolan’s architecture, along with landscape design by Amanda Oliver, this house is almost embedded within the garden. Particularly notable is the new rooftop garden above the living room, which truly enhances this overall experience.

‘This room is rich and raw, yet feels quiet and soft given it is carpeted,’ says Rachel. ‘Once this rooftop garden takes root, it is anticipated it will spill over the edges and you should feel completely in, under, and within a garden.’

This Week

02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

Studio Visit

The Dreamy New Retail Space Of A Professional Plant Charmer

Consider us charmed by Ryan Klewer’s (aka Plant Charmer) brand new headquarters in East Brunswick!
Sasha Gattermayr
  4 hours ago

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Mood-Enhancing Melbourne Home

Kennedy Nolan have knocked it out of the park again, transforming a Victorian house with a dated extension into a cohesive home, with uplift...

Architecture

An Expertly Renovated 1930s Home + Lush Garden

A 1930s Malvern house is transformed with a new concrete addition by Taylor Knights, and stunning garden by Ben Scott Garden Design.

Architecture

Two Buildings + Two Courtyard Gardens = One Clever Inner City Home

This Fitzroy North house by Rob Kennon Architects turns the traditional house and backyard model on its head!

This Week

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

Studio Visit

The Dreamy New Retail Space Of A Professional Plant Charmer

Consider us charmed by Ryan Klewer’s (aka Plant Charmer) brand new headquarters in East Brunswick!
Sasha Gattermayr
  4 hours ago

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Mood-Enhancing Melbourne Home

Kennedy Nolan transform a Victorian home with a dated extension into a cohesive, colour-popping home.

Architecture

An Expertly Renovated 1930s Home + Lush Garden

Taylor Knights and Ben Scott Garden Design come together to transform a 1930s Malvern home.

Architecture

Two Buildings + Two Courtyard Gardens = One Clever Inner City Home

This Fitzroy North house by Rob Kennon Architects turns the traditional house and backyard model on its head!

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.