The owners of this Fairfield (six kilometres north-east of Melbourne’s CBD) house loved its original 1960s charm, but the floor plan wasn’t conducive to their lifestyle. Turning to Maike Design, they requested a more open and light floor plan that allowed for family gatherings, ensured shift work hours weren’t disrupted, and contained lots of ‘hidey holes’ for two much-loved indoor cats!
Without demolishing or extending the building, Maike Design completely altered the sense of what this home is, and how it feels to occupy.
‘I like that the client recognised that they didn’t need a bigger house, they just needed the space to be better used,’ says Mairead Murphy, director at Maike Design.
‘Often these less than charming homes are demolished and replaced, leaving a gap in the historical landscape of our suburbs. By finding positive features in the existing house, we were able to integrate it into a design that was both respectful to its context and uniquely updated for our client.’
In reconfiguring the existing ‘warren’ of small rooms, service areas were relocated from the back of the house to the south of the building, providing clear access to the backyard.
Inspiration for the aesthetics was drawn from the original house, leading to the incorporation of terrazzo, brass, terracotta, and pastels including a minty green, peach and light blue.
Catering to the owner’s two cats was also an integral part of this project. As Mairead explains, ‘Their two cats were to be seamlessly incorporated into the design without it looking like a “cat house”.’
Maike and the client worked together to carefully determine the cats’ functional requirements (such as containment when the back of the house was open, litter boxes, and outdoor access), while also ensuring there were fun spots for them to hide and play. Among them is the highlight window ledge to sun themselves and watch the yard, accessed through a cupboard hidden in the kitchen joinery.
From the street the updated home appears only as a slightly tidier version of the original, while the interiors are a surprising delight tailor-made to the family owners. By choosing not to extend the home, the owners have also retained the generous outdoor space on their block (over 350 square metres).
‘We have taken an old structure that, with different clients, may have been demolished, and turned it into a functional and beautiful family home,’ says Mairead. ‘I really admire their dedication to their old house and am so pleased with what we were able to create for them.’