Before its renovation, this solid-red brick bungalow in Coburg harboured a shabby, asbestos-clad lean-to extension, closed off from the garden.
This was less than ideal for owners Sarah and Ben, who approached Drawing Room Architecture and Brave New Eco with hopes of creating an adaptable home that could serve their young family now, and into the future. But rather than focusing on strictly open-plan areas, the brief asked for spaces that allow for unity and separation — allowing the family to be together, even if they were doing different activities.
‘[Sarah and Ben] wanted someone to be in the kitchen area listening to music, while another person reads or watches the footy in the living area,’ Drawing Room Architecture’s Nicola Dovey says.
They imagined a kitchen that could ‘work hard’ and was able to look just as good when in chaos or clean and tidy. An extension carved out space for this newfound heart of the home, connecting the old to the new with steps, as other rooms were reconfigured completely.
‘We wanted all main living areas to have northern sun and easy access to the garden, so they were moved in the new extension footprint, [replacing] the demolished lean-to. The sunny sitting room was the existing dining room, with a new large opening carved into the northern wall to bring in warmth and light,’ Nicola says.
The additional challenge was bringing the old home up to speed on today’s sustainability requirements. Retrofitting insulation to the existing rooms and new heavy drapes ensured the old parts of the house could feel warm and cosy, while passive solar design elements like large, glazed doors and windows helped create the low-energy extension.
‘The unique aspect of this renovated Victorian-era home is that it continues to carry its unique heritage character yet works wholly in all the ways Victorian era houses fail,’ Nicola adds.
Brave New Eco’s layered interiors also enhance the refreshed, sun-drenched house. A beautiful stone benchtop is combined with a gunmetal sink and garden views in the kitchen, where earthy colours and subtle textures effortlessly hide daily fingerprints and smudges. A blend of timber and wood-grained laminate bring in additional warmth (as do the golden-yellow tiles in the bathrooms!) and the cinnamon tile floor was a practical and scuff-proof surface for kids.
‘I love the tones and textures, they are very nostalgic, and are evocative of an earthy childhood home with a kind of warm sepia tone of sunlight streaming through,’ Brave New Eco founding director and principal designer Megan Norgate says. ‘Sarah and Ben’s house existing home was joyously curated with a mishmash of old and handmade, each item much loved and with a story attached and we wove this idea into the new spaces.’
One of the standout features — the open-shelving that links the living and the kitchen — even evolved out of a suggestion from the owners. It’s just one example of how the design blends function and form, creating a home for their beautiful objects and beloved records, while also meeting their original brief for a family home that embraces connection.