It’s a tale as old as time; ‘The worst house on the best street’ that’s well overdue for a makeover. This was the state of Henry II, a classic double fronted villa in Northcote, Melbourne, in dire need of a transformation.
Now, after a respectful restoration of the original house and a sweeping new contemporary two-storey addition by Altereco, Henry II is befitting its spot on street.
From said street, the home retains its beautiful heritage look. ‘A cleanly restored facade and gardens ensures the street appeal is nothing out of the ordinary,’ explains James Goodlet, director of Altereco.
The ‘wow factor’ is saved for the transition into the new addition, which features a soaring three metre high ceiling, large windows that invite the outdoors in and curved timber-battened ‘pods’, one containing a bathroom, the other concealing the stairwell to the second storey.
James worked with his client, interior designer Renee Richards of Ochre Studio, on the interior. They chose a standout marmoreal white terrazzo benchtop for the kitchen, burnished concrete floors and sculptural timber battens in the new addition. These warm material choices are reflected in the original part of the home where original timber floors and painted bricks are the hero.
The decision by Renee to engage Altereco in the restoration and renovation of this home was an easy one. After all, they’d designed an award-winning house, nicknamed Stompbox, on the same street, for her back in 2014.
‘The main inspiration for Henry II was the last house we designed for these clients; Stompbox,’ explains James. ‘They wanted a slightly larger version of this to allow for their growing family.’
Key design features in the new build such as the curved timber ‘pods’ that frame the opening to the new addition where the main living area, kitchen and dining are situated were directly inspired by Stompbox.
‘It was quite a unique design experience,’ says James. ‘We were able to reflect on our past experiences and inherent shared knowledge of the last project; what worked well for them and what could be improved.’
Their previous laundry layout, for instance, was ‘perfect’ and therefore replicated exactly in the new house. The curved timbers pods are a nod to the pantry and ensuite in the previous home, too, and the en suite, which is described as a ‘room within a room’, worked so well that this was also translated into the new home.
As James notes, ‘If it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it!’