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A Quietly Robust Brunswick Home That Fits Together Like A Puzzle

Architecture

The client of this single-fronted Victorian in Brunswick loved its existing feel, but recognised a lack of natural light and connection to the garden. Having lived in the house from his mid-20s to mid-30s, the house had slowly become more ‘grown up’ over the years, calling for updated interiors to reflect this. 

Moving away from the common open-plan response, Placement Studio designed new living spaces to offer more intimate moments, with a loft above. The result is a quietly robust home, utilising joinery that fits together like a puzzle to cleverly define rooms. 

7th December, 2021

Brunswick House is a renovated and extended single-fronted Victorian by Placement Studio. Guggenheim Vase by 101 Copenhagen from In Good Company. Open to Divine Pleats Sculpture by Kirsten Perry from Pepite. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Given the property’s compact block size (approximately 155 square metres) and the client’s desire to maintain the garden, minimising impact to the backyard was paramount. Landscape design – Growing Designs. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

New spaces were treated as an ‘exercise in joinery’ working to overcome the home’s tight proportions. Ceramic Crater Vase by Sharon Alpren from Pepite. Artwork: ‘The Seeker of Treasure Retains Tranquility‘ by Peter Summers from Studio Gallery. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The house provides a much-needed connection to the outdoors not present in the previous layout. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The view from the kitchen through to the living room built-in sofa.Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The material palette is an elevated take on the previous, featuring earthy spotted gum timber and brick, with tiled bench tops for added texture.  Artwork on top shelf: ‘Sitting Still, Flowing River’ by Peter Summers from Studio Gallery. Ferm Living Ripple Glasses + Carafe on shelf from Designstuff. Buhera Pot Basket from Pan After. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The kitchen looks out to the home’s central courtyard on one side. . Ferm Living Ripple Glasses + Carafe on shelf from Designstuff. Buhera Pot Basket from Pan After. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Artwork on top shelf: ‘Sitting Still, Flowing River’ by Peter Summers from Studio Gallery. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The bathroom is in the centre of the extension and features a large operable skylight over the shower/bath, creating a wash of light over the walls. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Artwork on top shelf: ‘Sitting Still, Flowing River’ by Peter Summers from Studio Gallery. Ferm Living Ripple Glasses + Carafe from Designstuff. The loft bedroom above the living area. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 7th December 2021

‘Essentially the space can be seen as a large joinery unit that creates intimate moments within a larger space.’ – Stephanie Kitingan

This single-fronted Victorian cottage in Brunswick, Victoria required significant updating, but not everything needed to go. 

Having already lived in the home for a decade, the client appreciated its established feel, as well as the size of the existing garden.

Placement Studio were tasked with retaining these qualities, while dramatically updating the home to be more contemporary, warm, and beautiful. 

Given the property’s compact block size (approximately 155 square metres) and the client’s desire to maintain the garden, minimising impact to the backyard was paramount. Instead, Placement Studio designed a new floor plan on a similar footprint, with a loft space added above.

A new central courtyard separates the original two front rooms from the contemporary spaces centred around the bathroom. Placement Studio treated these new spaces as an ‘exercise in joinery’ working to overcome the home’s tight proportions. The effect is a sense of overlapping, where one space bleeds into the next. 

‘Essentially the space can be seen as a large joinery unit that creates intimate moments within a larger space,’ explains Placement Studio director Stephanie Kitingan. ‘Major inspirations for these sorts of resolutions can be seen in Louis Kahn‘s residential work, and is a prominent feature in a lot of Japanese architecture due to their propensity for small living.’

A sawtooth roof form allows northern light to penetrate deep into the extension, adding to the impact of the central courtyard, operable skylight in the bathroom, and built-in living room sofa framed by a large window. ‘You can trace the passing of the day quite literally, with how the sun and shadows move in the extension,’ says Stephanie. 

The material palette is an elevated take on the previous, featuring earthy spotted gum timber and brick, with tiled bench tops for added texture. 

The success of this project can be attributed to its careful curation of light, and the cleverness of the joinery that subtly defines areas from one another. In rejecting the typical open-plan extension, Placement Studio have achieved the client’s preference for a humble and unpretentious home, on much the same footprint. 

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