There’s plenty to love about the elegant heritage facade of this Northcote family pad. But before its renovation, the interior told familiar stories of Melbourne’s typical period homes, with dark, cold, disconnected spaces and an uninspiring renovation at the back.
So when the owners – a family of five – engaged building designers EME Design to renovate the old house, they knew it had to be sympathetic to its roots.
‘They really wanted the extension to nestle in behind the heritage home as viewed from the street,’ EME Design director Luke Middleton says. A warm palette of limestone and shiplap timber was chosen for the extension, to ensure the materials would ‘age gracefully’ in line with the existing build.
The backyard was another key focus for the brief, with requests for zones to play sports, a pool and a productive garden, amongst lush and serene landscaping.
In addition to transforming the building’s functionality, the renovation was also an opportunity to upgrade its sustainability credentials. Impressively, the outcome exceeded all expectations – bringing the existing 1-star NatHERS rating up to a 6!
‘We did a deep analysis of the site to determine the seasonal light patterns, investigating the shadows from neighbouring buildings and established trees,’ Luke explains. This revealed the optimal placement of the new extension and its configuration that worked with the natural elements, significantly improving the home’s energy consumption.
‘The site was challenging given its unusual shape and the heritage overlay,’ Luke adds. ‘We designed the extension to improve the performance of the old home, as well as provide sun drenched living spaces in the extension.’
The old part of the property was retrofitted with new insulation to the floor and ceilings, while double-glazed windows were used throughout. The home also features almost entirely electric appliances, and rooftop solar panels.
Now, soaring ceilings and charming arches lead to contemporary living spaces and a multitude of calming outdoor zones. And by stripping back and retrofitting the original heritage home to create a new, more sustainable foundation, the enduring exterior now hides a striking (and surprising!) family sanctuary.