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A Forest-Like Makeover For A Poky Victorian Sharehouse

Interiors

The two sisters who own this house in Melbourne’s Kensington originally lived in another property altogether, with their parents in a different home nearby. Eventually, the two households realised they preferred the others’ home – so they swapped!

After the deal was done, the siblings engaged designer Kim Kneipp to make some tweaks to suit their share house lifestyle in the new space. Nine years on and they have engaged her again to re-do the remainder of the space!

Characterised by elegant custom joinery, clever storage integration and a beautiful material expression, this sharehouse is now fit to mature in the years to come.

23rd June, 2021

The beautiful kitchen joinery is the main feature of the new interior! Now that it is situated along the wall to run lengthways down the house (rather then across the width), greater circulation has been achieved from zone to zone. Island joinery by ZP Woodwork. Line, pantry + laundry joinery by Andrew Sama. Painting by Rohan Fraser. Photo – Lisa Cohen.

Clever storage solutions were crucial to make the most of space in the small home. White Laminex cabinetry hovers above the workspaces in the kitchen to create nearly invisible storage space. Line, pantry + laundry joinery by Andrew Sama. Photo – Lisa Cohen.

The benchtop space conceals a built-in bar to be even more economical on space. Island joinery by ZP Woodwork. Photo – Lisa Cohen.

Kim designed the bookcase in the dining ‘library’ a few years ago. The clients loved it so much, they took it as the central reference for the new kitchen design. Photo – Lisa Cohen.

The laundry is an extension of the kitchen and is clad in beautiful cabinetry with Dulux Deep Aloe Vera 2-pac finish. Photo – Lisa Cohen.

A nook in the living room displays a collection of items and ornaments! Photo – Lisa Cohen.

The same green surfaces and timber joinery characterise the material expression of the bathroom. Photo – Lisa Cohen.

This house proves that you don’t need to do an entire renovation to reclaim a space! By working in the existing footprint, opening up the layout and selecting a few beautiful materials, a totally new space can be achieved. Photo – Lisa Cohen.

Sasha Gattermayr
Wednesday 23rd June 2021

Shared by two siblings and their friend (a mental health worker, water conservation specialist and AFLW coach respectively), the inhabitants of this Kensington house found the original layout too cramped for three adults and their separate lives. They’d been waiting five years to see if the house would be compulsorily acquired for the East West Link, so when they got the all-clear that it wouldn’t be, they engaged designer Kim Kneipp to work her magic on all the refurbishments they’d been putting off.

‘This house was suffering from all of the classic problems of an old Victorian weatherboard – small dark rooms with super high ceilings, sunken floorboards in need of re-stumping and a disjointed series of add-ons with varied ceiling heights and patched repairs,’ explains Kim. ‘A large part of our design process was to create storage and access systems to ensure everything had a place.’

Working entirely within the existing footprint of the house, Kim redefined the layout for better circulation between zones. An internal wall was cut back to let more courtyard light flood through the house and the kitchen was repositioned so it didn’t interrupt the flow from the front door to the rear.

Drawing on the floor to ceiling shelves Kim had designed for the house a few years previously, everyone settled on custom joinery as the major functional and aesthetic characteristic of the kitchen. And it has become the hero element of the whole design!

Naturally finished timber with a beautiful woodgrain is the dominant material, used in everything from shelving and cabinetry to range-hood cladding. Raw brass tapware and rail add a metallic contrast and will patina over time. A wooden ladder attached to the rail provides access to the ceiling height storage cupboard covered in white Laminex hover above the kitchen cabinetry.

The deepest part of the house is the laundry and bathroom sequence, which is connected to the kitchen via a sliding door. Here, the material expression shifts from timber to cabinetry (coated in Dulux Deep Aloe Vera 2-pac finish) to signal the change in zone. Benchspace stretches through into this transition space, meaning the kitchen can extend at mealtimes to accommodate all members of the house cooking at once.

This green palette continue through to the bathroom where olive square tiles from Artedomus clad the walls. (Funny story: This style was discontinued by the company, so one of the clients went on an Instagram deep dive and came across Adriana Hanna of Kennedy Nolan Architects who had used the exact tile in her own bathroom. She DM’d Adriana who had agreed to sell them her leftovers!)

From poky, dark Victorian to light contemporary home – this share-house has totally grown up!

While her website is under development, follow Kim’s latest projects on Instagram here.

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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