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 Clever, Creative Renovation For This Compact Victorian Home

Homes

From the front facade, you’d have no idea of the clever renovations that lie within this Victorian cottage in Melbourne.

Keen to avoid a ‘typical box on the back’ extension, owners and designers Penny and Simon Barnes crafted an alternative, curving roof extension that utilises every inch of available space on the Carlton North block.

The expanded home remains faithful to the area’s original architecture, while simultaneously providing more space and improved energy efficiency for the couple and their three children. 

30th June, 2021

Painting above fire place by Prue Clay. Table designed by Simon Pengelly. Kitchen and living room joinery made by Woodbeast. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Painting above fire place by Prue Clay. Table designed by Simon Pengelly. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Penny and Simon Barnes are both designers at Arup. They live in their home with their three children and labrador! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Painting above fire place by Prue Clay. Table designed by Simon Pengelly. Lighting by Tim Hunt. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The dining table runs the length of the kitchen, with the cabinetry behind. Joinery by Woodbeast. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Artwork clockwise from left: Pablo Palazuelo vintage poster from Fondation Maeght; unknown artist from Vietnam; painting by unknown artists from Gallery Midlandia. (Bottom left on table) painting by Margie Woodall from New Mexico; right (on table) paintings by Poppy and Penny Barnes. Robin Day sofa. Joinery by Woodbeast. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Moments Musicaux de Six a Huit vintage poster by Valerio Adami from Fondation Maeght. Living room joinery made by Woodbeast. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Børge Mogensen Spanish chairs from Modern Times. Living room joinery made by Woodbeast. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The home contains space for work, pleasure and relaxation to suit the family of five. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The hero of the entire project is the extension’s curved, blackbutt plywood ceiling. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

This ceiling and sentimental items bring instant warmth to the entire space. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Embroidery cushion by Penny’s mother Annie Garrett. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A bedroom in the new upper-level extension. Embroidery cushion by Penny’s mother Annie Garrett. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The unique extension is only visible from the laneway behind the home. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 30th June 2021

‘We didn’t want a typical “box” on the back and wanted to use every available ounce of space, so we constructed a steel frame with curved roof to create a unique first floor. – Penny Barnes

Penny and Simon Barnes are both designers at Arup, so they approached extending their Carlton North home with a clear understanding of their desires, and the home’s potential.  

Their intention; ‘Avoid the tedium of the box and the flimsiness of cheap construction through robust recycled brick and sound environmental performance,’ says Penny.

To achieve this, the couple demolished the existing rear of their Victorian home and reimagined this to suit their family with three children.

Simon was largely in charge of designing the specific details, including triple glazing, thermal mass, rainwater storage, and solar panels. 

‘We didn’t want a typical “box” on the back and wanted to use every available ounce of space, so we constructed a steel frame with curved roof to create a unique first floor,’ Penny says.

Spanning two storeys, this new extension retains the essence of inner-Victorian terraces the couple love (‘A sense of human scale and materiality,’ as Penny says), just with added space to suit their lifestyle.

Materials are simple yet durable, with minimal embellishments, except for those pre-existing. Penny explains, ‘In places, we have left the “memory” of previous wall finishes as a reminder of the age of the home and its colourful history. We have celebrated the new structure which lives inside the existing boundary wall, and creates a sense of scale to the ground level.’

The hero of the entire project is the extension’s curved, blackbutt plywood ceiling, which was brought to life by builders Swift Innovations. This ceiling, along with the kitchen cabinetry by Woodbeast brings an instant warmth to the entire space. 

‘We deliberately tried to eliminate any lighting from our ceilings, and were assisted in this with our colleague and lighting guru, Tim Hunt,’ says Penny.  

Books, plants, artwork, and sentimental items collected from all over the world further add to the charming feel of the property’s interiors. There’s even a table shipped over from one of the couple’s favourite pubs in London! (It required some major rejuvenation,’ Penny says). 

Penny calls the completed home an ‘environment of creativity’ – a place for making – supported by its new and old architecture, the craftsmanship of the builders, their children’s personalities, and recent stint working from home. 

This Week

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's warm and welcoming family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!

Homes

A Leading Architect’s Compact And Clever Fitzroy Family Home

Architect Karen Alcock and her partner Jojo bought the cheapest house in Fitzroy 15 years ago. See how the family have made it their own wit...

Homes

An Owner-Built, Architect-Designed Renovation Of A Charming 1920s Melbourne Home

Lauren Egan and Glenn Hester collaborate with Project 12 Architecture on a thoughtful update to their 1920s Preston home, with interiors by

This Week

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

Similar Stories

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!

Homes

A Leading Architect’s Compact And Clever Fitzroy Family Home

Architect Karen Alcock shares her family's cosy and vibrant Fitzroy home (that's currently for sale!)

Homes

An Owner-Built, Architect-Designed Renovation Of A Charming 1920s Melbourne Home

Lauren Egan and Glenn Hester collaborate with Project 12 Architecture on a thoughtful update to their 1920s Preston home, with interiors by

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.