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An Extraordinary Reworking Of An Edwardian Home

Architecture

Like many period homes in Melbourne, this Brighton house has been renovated several times in its 100+ year existence.

Rather than completely demolish and start over, Figr Architecture encouraged its owners to work almost entirely within the existing structure when recently tasked with updating the home.

While the project brief at one point appeared to challenge the house’s physical limitations, Figr succeeded in turning a poky and dark house into a refined, light-filled home connected to its garden. 

24th March, 2022

Sofa from Southwood. Ottoman from Anaca Studio. Coffee tables from Globewest. Glass and carafe from Design Stuff. Rug from Halcyon Lake. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Adjustable screens along the outdoor dining area make this an all-weather space and allow light to flow freely. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Cushions from Southwood. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Sofa and cushions from Southwood. Ottoman and side table from Anaca Studio. Coffee tables, armchair, dining table and chairs from Globewest. Ceramics from L&M Home. Glass and carafe from Design Stuff. Rug from Halcyon Lake. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Sofa from Southwood. Coffee tables from Globewest. Glass and carafe from Design Stuff. Rug from Halcyon Lake. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Dining table and chairs from Globewest. Ceramics from L&M Home. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Dining chairs from Globewest. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Outdoor table and chairs from Southwood. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Bar stool from Anaca Studio. Ceramics from L&M Home. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Barstool from Anaca Studio. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Ceramics from L&M Home. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Repeated curves in the bathroom soften the hardness of the materials. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

The bathroom got the ultimate update with a generous overhead skylight. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

The front of the house remains true to its 90s origins. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 24th March 2022

‘From a philosophical point of view and design response, we focused on restraint — how to start again without reinventing the wheel and demolishing everything’. – Adi Atic. 

When Figr Architecture were engaged to renovate this Edwardian home in Brighton, Melbourne, they could have knocked the entire house over and started afresh. Luckily, they took a different approach.

‘We really liked the principles behind the existing plan layout. The interior was a little outdated, however it did have good bones,’ says Adi Atic, director of Figr Architecture. ‘We felt that maintaining as much of the existing home was an integral part of the design.’ 

The period home had been renovated multiple times before, including a ‘90s extension designed by John Cuthbert, which Figr hoped to preserve. Their overall vision was relatively simple: open up the floor plan by removing dead ends; create a sanctuary related to the outdoors; and facilitate a ‘lighter’ building sympathetic to its surroundings.

‘From a philosophical point of view and design response, we focused on restraint — how to start again without reinventing the wheel and demolishing everything,’ says Adi. ‘The moves that we made had to be subtle, yet responsive to the site constraints.’

Original fireplaces, architraves, skirtings, and picture rails were all restored, and contemporary reinterpretations added. Australian sourced hardwood clads the punctured facade openings, as well as in the interiors that feature a low VOC hardwax oil coating. 

The only extension added is a new west-facing verandah and covered outdoor area surrounded by operable, slatted screens.

While challenging at times, working within the existing structure of this project drastically reduced construction waste, and ultimately resulted in a better home. 

‘You naturally inherit the flaws and imperfections of the past… crooked walls, bad plumbing, and openings that didn’t have adequate structure,’ explains Adi. ‘These constraints and discoveries resulted in making some quick decisions during construction, which led to interesting solutions that complemented the final project outcome.’

Adi most appreciates how light now enters the home, and how the new architectural updates sit comfortably and easily alongside the home’s restored, original features. ‘The undeniable character of old buildings like this provide an indelible foundation on which architecture can avoid whimsy and needless extravagance’ he concludes. 

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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