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Architect Luke Fry, On Modernising A Heritage Home

Design Eye

Today we re-launch our Design Eye series – a column dedicated to exploring design trends, expert advice, and iconic furniture, in conversation with some of Australia’s best designers and architects. 

Kicking off series two is award-winning architect Luke Fry, whose practice specialises – among other things – in heritage renovations, with an inimitable focus on simple, yet strong materials, and relevant design. 

Luke gives us the low-down on one of his recent projects; a timeless reworking and extension of a period Glen Iris home; and how furniture choices, in this case the DS-600 sofa and Bear Sofa (both available exclusively at DOMO), contribute to balancing old and new.

24th November, 2022

The de Sede DS-600 Sofa from DOMO is a modular design, allowing for versatile configurations. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The sofa’s eye-catching design makes it a feature in any room. DS-600 Sofa by de Sede, available exclusively from DOMO. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

DS-600 Sofa by de Sede and Oxydation Occasional & Low Table by Ligne Roset, available exclusively from DOMO. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Left: standing at the back of the house looking towards the front, residents can glimpse the bedrooms and open living spaces across the lawn. Right: Luke Fry. Photo (left) – Derek Swalwell.

A spacious kitchen island for gathering around. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The dining room overlooks the rolling lawn and pool at the rear of the plot. Ligne Roset Intervalle Dining Table in Black Oak, available exclusively from DOMO. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The Bear Sofa by HC28 from DOMO is a versatile, contemporary piece that sits well in heritage and modern builds. Ligne Roset Oxydation Occasional & Low Table from DOMO. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 24th November 2022

“There truly is an art to getting the balance right between traditional and contemporary, both new and old need to respect each other and sit harmoniously on the site” – Luke Fry

A modern extension or update to a heritage home is one of the most common renovation projects we see. That’s no surprise, as these types of homes, whilst steeped in history and character, often aren’t designed to accommodate our modern way of living, and the need for open-plan living, flexibility and connection to the outdoors.

The key challenge homeowners, designers and architects face with these renovations is how to balance old and new sensitively. This goes for furniture selection, too. 

Architect Luke Fry is no stranger to these types of design projects – and their subsequent challenges. His Glen Iris project, for example, saw him rework a period house in near-original condition, into a generous and contemporary family home that still speaks to its provenance. 

Structural curves inspired by the original facade were fundamental in creating a seamless connection between old and new, and to soften the modern extension’s minimalist, contemporary palette. The furniture selection, too, took its lead from the curves of the facade with soft, rounded pieces featuring throughout. Most notably seen in the DS-600 sofa from DOMO, whose curves and lines not only reflect the structure of the home, but the fluted profile of the kitchen bench and ceiling feature. 

Luke talks us through his approach:

Hello Luke! You’ve designed some truly incredible homes, how would you describe your overarching design aesthetic?

Thank you! We approach our projects with a refined simplicity that is layered with texture and detail. We’re very driven by the micro details that are only truly appreciated when you’re experiencing the space first hand. Our projects are focused on lifestyle and experiences, we want to enhance a person’s senses when connecting with the spaces we have created, no matter what the context whether it be residential, hospitality etc.

Your Glen Iris project perfectly illustrates how to modernise and extend a period home quite dramatically, whilst retaining respect for the original structure. Tell us – how did you approach this project? What were your key goals and considerations for this home?

The original home was relatively untouched which meant there was a lot of scope for change, not only in terms of the house but also the use of the site. The rear pavilion hugs the southern boundary and maximises northern light into the main living spaces, which was important for us to achieve. It has a strong connection to the landscaped spaces and is very secluded from the street. The soft curved walls create a relaxed and calm environment despite the amount of concrete and stone, something which is complimented throughout the interior detailing and further enhances the experience we wanted out clients to have.

There are some very bold furniture pieces on show in the Glen Iris project, including the iconic DS-600 sofa by de Sede – why were you drawn to this particular piece, and why does it works so well in this space?

I love the flexibility (literally) of the DS-600, the ability it has to change shape is truly unique. It follows the curves of the building perfectly and sits so nicely in the space.

 In this home you’ve combined both modern and classic furniture selections, all under one roof. How did you approach furnishing and styling the original rooms, compared with the selections you made for the new addition at the rear of the home?  

The interior and its furnishings reflect the building itself, a beautiful combination of old and new.

What’s your advice for modernising a heritage home? What should homeowners consider before embarking on a renovation of a period home?

There truly is an art to getting the balance right between traditional and contemporary, both new and old need to respect each other, and sit harmoniously on the site.

Period homes are always built using construction methods and details which we rarely see these days, and its not something that should be ignored. You need to match the same level of detail and consideration on whatever is added.

What’s next for Luke fry architects ?

We have some amazing Victorian based homes on the drawing board, but the future also includes interstate projects, multi-residential, hospitality and commercial. You’ll see us  spreading our wings a little more, it’s a very exciting time.

For more than 30 years, DOMO has remained Australia’s exclusive stockist of prestigious design brands from Europe, and across the globe.

With showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, DOMO offers a curated collection of classic, contemporary indoor and outdoor furniture ranges that last a lifetime.

For more design inspiration, follow DOMO on Instagram here.

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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