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.