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

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!
Lucy Feagins
  13 hours ago

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras
  5 hours ago

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

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

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras
  5 hours ago

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!
Lucy Feagins
  13 hours ago

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net