This Cottage Hides A Sun-Drenched Renovation That’s Anything But Ordinary

Nestled on a narrow site in Fitzroy, this typical workers’ cottage hides a renovation that’s anything but ordinary.

Like many neighbouring properties from the era, this home originally held dark, uninviting rooms and awkward living spaces, that Architecture architecture have since transformed into a series of cohesive pockets — designed for socialising, reflecting, and retreating in private.

The 70-square-metre house now hides sunshine-yellow details inside and out, alongside a central courtyard, and interiors punctuated by distinctive breeze blocks that fill the home with texture, airflow and natural light.

Christina Karras

Inside the renovated workers’ cottage!

Concrete breezeblocks are paired with timber to create the calming interiors.

North-facing clerestory windows also provide abundant light while concealing views of the neighbouring two-storey house that would otherwise loom over the property.

A peek into the luxurious sunken lounge!

The yellow details throughout reflect the owners’ shared love of Mexican architect’s Luis Barragán playful work.

The courtyard separates the bedroom from the main pavilion of the house, featuring the study/guest bedroom, bathroom, living areas, kitchen garden, and entry hall.

The concrete backdrop is beautiful contrast with abundant ground coverings and crawling ivy.

The main bedroom located across from the outdoor walkway.

Textural details.

The bedroom’s private ensuite hides a dreamy yellow bathub.

The project’s name Sunday speaks to the sunny yellow of the front door, bath and lounge. ‘It’s the perfect house for a lazy Sunday, and any given sun day,’ project director Michael Roper says.

Christina Karras
15th of May 2023

Sunday by Architecture architecture manages to feel both spacious and varied; intimate and communal — a true achievement when you consider the floorplan is just 70 square metres.

The owners, Virginia and Sophie, had been living at the Fitzroy workers’ cottage for two decades when they engaged the Melbourne design firm for a complete renovation.

‘As we found it, [the home] had awkward living areas, a backyard overlooked by neighbours on two sides, and front rooms that were dark and uninviting,’ project director Michael Roper says. ‘Unfortunately, none of this is uncommon on a small inner-urban site like this.’

But rather than adding more space to the narrow 175-square-metre block with a second storey, Michael says the clients were open to ‘unorthodox and innovative’ spatial planning. They opted to forego a traditional hallway, instead creating a calming central courtyard that separated their bedroom from the rest of the residence, turning it into a deliberate retreat while also providing garden views and allowing natural light to flow throughout.

‘We’ve zoned the house into a chequerboard of spatial conditions, ranging from communal and generous, through to private and intimate,’ Michael adds.

This carefully considered floorplan ensures each section of the house feature both functional, open areas for social gathering, and quiet spaces reserved for relaxation — for example the yellow sunken lounge offers a luxurious escape from the ‘communal’ living room, while the private bedroom’s ensuite hides a matching yellow bathtub, overlooking the lush greenery of the courtyard.

The property also required a lot of work to improve its thermal performance and structural integrity. The front room was updated and retained and the rest was built entirely new, inspired by Virginia and Sophie’s personal references: including their respective interests in raw materials and the ‘breeziness’ of architect Geoffrey Bawa’s work, spurred from Sophie’s time in Sri Lanka.

Michael says these stories are woven throughout the design, complemented by their shared love of yellow reflected in the interiors. Simple but striking concrete breezeblocks are used as walls both inside and out, alongside a relaxing blend of timber and steel.

‘Before, there were whole rooms of the house we barely entered,’ the clients say. ‘Now, the house feels like a single continuous space, every corner of which has both purpose and beauty.’

It’s a serene and personal home designed for the perfect lazy Sunday, and any given ‘sun day’!

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