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 New Chapter For An Eclectic 100-Year-Old Cottage

Architecture

Some renovations projects call for an extensive overhaul of an existing space, others just a little finessing. The latter was the case for Engawa House in Ivanhoe, Victoria, which required only necessary works to update its energy efficiency and spatial planning. 

Only 15 square metres is a true addition to the house – the remainder simply a reconfiguring of the existing space, designed by Inbetween Architecture as a natural reaction to the client’s curious collection of souvenirs.

As the director of Inbetween Architecture John Liu explains, the house aims to be unapologetic in the pleasant messiness of living with ‘things.’

6th December, 2021

An ‘engawa’ is a continuous verandah edge that allows the internal volume to share its spatial quality with the private yard beyond. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Only necessary updates were specified in the brief to Inbetween Architecture: an updated kitchen, laundry, and bathroom (all added in an ‘80s renovation), and improved energy efficiency. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Owners, Phil and Katrina, loved their old house but knew they wanted greater integration with the garden. They described the brief as an addition that was ‘not different, just more.’ Photo – Peter Bennetts.

‘We have lived here for 12 years or so. Our aim was to find a house that took up no more space or resources than we needed,’ Phil says. ‘It has been a home to many families for more than a hundred years, and it shows. It has always been a place of comfort and love.’ Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The primary goal of the interiors was to provide a simple, open backdrop for Phil and Katrina’s eclectic interests, personality, and art to be on full display. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Inbetween Architecture implemented a general strategy of nooks rather than rooms, borrowing space from one another to blur boundaries. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

All their treasures, art and collections are on show! Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Aesthetically there are references to Japanese homes, such as the wooden accents throughout and cedar bath. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Light streams into the house, while a network of hallways connect the rooms and create great flow. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The interiors are coated with Dulux Enviro2 paint. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Phil’s art studio! Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The house retains its character and lived-in feel, despite being updated. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The Ivanhoe locale provides a lushness to the surrounds. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Phil at work. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The house is a typical suburban presence from the exterior! Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Amelia Barnes
Monday 6th December 2021

‘It has been a home to many families for more than a hundred years, and it shows. It has always been a place of comfort and love.’ 

If you asked a child to draw a house, most would draw a box with a triangle-shaped roof, door, two windows, and a chimney. This is how artist Phil and Katrina see their beloved Ivanhoe home –an important feature they didn’t want changed.

The couple explain, ‘When older houses are extended, the “join” often shows and the overall primary shape of the house loses integrity…[Our home] already opened onto the garden, but we wanted to improve the flow between garden and house. Not different, just more.’

Only necessary updates were specified in the brief to Inbetween Architecture: an updated kitchen, laundry, and bathroom (all added in an ‘80s renovation), and improved energy efficiency. 

‘We always cherished the house, but sometimes it could be a difficult child. It is one thing to feel close to the garden, and another thing to feel gusts of wind from outside coming through the bathroom ceiling in winter!’ say Phil and Katrina. 

A 6.5 metre rear covenant setback greatly limited the scope of any extension or addition, forcing Inbetween Architecture to look mostly inward to make changes. In any case, Phil and Katrina always appreciated the existing house and garden’s size, therefore welcoming the approach. ‘We have lived here for 12 years or so. Our aim was to find a house that took up no more space or resources than we needed,’ Phil says. ‘It has been a home to many families for more than a hundred years, and it shows. It has always been a place of comfort and love.’ 

‘We also wanted the house to reflect our approach to life: to prefer the simple, functional and efficient at a time when there seems to be a sort of arms race to build bigger houses and buy bigger, louder cars.’

Only 15 square metres was added to the house, most of which encompasses the ‘engawa’ – a continuous verandah edge that allows the internal volume to share its spatial quality with the private yard beyond. 

The primary goal of the interiors was to provide a simple, open backdrop for Phil and Katrina’s eclectic interests, personality, and art to be on full display. A general strategy of nooks rather than rooms ensued, borrowing space from one another to blur boundaries. 

Aesthetically there are references to Japanese homes (‘They are typically compact, calm, and unfussy, and accentuate the natural beauty of wood,’ Phil says), although in keeping with Phil and Katrina’s lifestyle. ‘We know our limits, and a shoji screen would not last till morning tea in our house. So, we asked John to try and incorporate a little Japanese design, without it being an attempt to replicate a traditional Japanese house. John achieved this through the thoughtful inclusion of things like the overhanging wooden eaves and engawa-style rear deck,’ says Phil. 

A Japanese wooden bath made of cedar provides a further relaxing touch. ‘This was made by a local craftsman, and is a simple thing of beauty. When you have a soak, you come out smelling like a pencil, and the cedar scent finds its way through the house,’ says Phil.

In adopting a ‘chapter adding’ philosophy, Inbetween Architecture have enhanced the home and its character, only adding to its already rich history. 

This Week

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

Stays

Stay Off-Grid In A Tiny House, Or Restored 1890s Hut, On The One NSW Property!

Escape to one of two tiny houses or a restored 1890 hut at Wildernest, located on the edge of the NSW Southern Highlands.

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

Homes

An Incredible 1896 Waterfront House, Accessible Only By Boat

Garden designer Richard Unsworth shares ‘Trincomalee’ – his magical 1896 waterfront home in northern Sydney, accessible only by boat.
Lucy Feagins
  19 hours ago

Architecture

A Minimal Intervention Weatherboard Home Makeover

A Seddon weatherboard renovation by Circle Studio Architects that doesn’t erase its past, but firmly enhances its future.

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

Architecture

A Traditional Queenslander Turned Multigenerational, Japanese-Inspired Home

Arcke architects lifted this Queenslander to accommodate a two-bedroom apartment underneath, and provide better connections to the outdoors

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

News

WIN A One-Of-A-Kind Artwork By Local Artist Dave Kulesza - aka Boris Bombay!

Bombay Sapphire are giving away a nostalgia-fuelled, pop art-esque tiled artwork by Boris Bombay (aka Dave Kulesza) to one lucky winner!
Sponsored

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Shopping

The Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Guide

From sleek and chic to fun and playful, here are four different schemes for the outdoor dining situation of your dreams!

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Japanese-Inspired Heritage Home Transformation

Ha Architecture overcame heritage restrictions to transform this Hawthorn home into a Japanese-inspired tranquil space.

Architecture

This Inner-City Melbourne Home Unfolds Like A Garden Path

A remarkable Melbourne home that references the mountain ranges of rural New Zealand, and the beaches of South Australia - by Architecture A...

Architecture

A Serene, Geoffrey Bawa-Inspired Auckland Home

Geoffrey Bawa's tropical modernism inspired this Edwardian home renovation in Auckland by Jack McKinney Architects and Katie Lockhart Studio...

This Week

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

Architecture

A Minimal Intervention Weatherboard Home Makeover

A Seddon weatherboard renovation by Circle Studio Architects that doesn’t erase its past, but firmly enhances its future.

Stays

Stay Off-Grid In A Tiny House, Or Restored 1890s Hut, On The One NSW Property!

Escape to one of two tiny houses or a restored 1890 hut at Wildernest, located on the edge of the NSW Southern Highlands.

Shopping

The Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Guide

From sleek and chic to fun and playful, here are four different schemes for the outdoor dining situation of your dreams!

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

Homes

An Incredible 1896 Waterfront House, Accessible Only By Boat

Garden designer Richard Unsworth shares ‘Trincomalee’ – his magical 1896 waterfront home in northern Sydney, accessible only by boat.
Lucy Feagins
  19 hours ago

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

News

WIN A One-Of-A-Kind Artwork By Local Artist Dave Kulesza - aka Boris Bombay!

Bombay Sapphire are giving away a nostalgia-fuelled, pop art-esque tiled artwork by Boris Bombay (aka Dave Kulesza) to one lucky winner!
Sponsored

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!

Architecture

A Traditional Queenslander Turned Multigenerational, Japanese-Inspired Home

Arcke architects lifted this Queenslander to accommodate a two-bedroom apartment underneath, and provide better connections to the outdoors

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Japanese-Inspired Heritage Home Transformation

Ha Architecture overcame heritage restrictions to transform this Hawthorn home into a Japanese-inspired tranquil space.

Architecture

This Inner-City Melbourne Home Unfolds Like A Garden Path

A unique Melbourne home inspired by the mountain ranges of rural New Zealand.

Architecture

A Serene, Geoffrey Bawa-Inspired Auckland Home

Geoffrey Bawa's tropical modernism inspired this Edwardian home renovation in Auckland by Jack McKinney Architects and Katie Lockhart Studio...

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.