Wowowa Architecture are renowned for richly-coloured and memory-infused projects, so it’s only natural this distinctive aesthetic is on full display in the directors’ own family home.
Monique and Scott Woodward purchased their Northcote, Melbourne house in 2016 as first home buyers. ‘Having designed some very glam award-winning homes for some very fancy people, looking at the bottom of the market as a first home buyer was an exercise in truly embodying our mantra “I love ugly ducklings, I love ugly ducklings”, says Monique.
The house was a rundown California bungalow, but Monique was won over by one key feature. ‘It had a Hills Hoist — the Aussie larrikin in me was satisfied.’
‘As a rule, Wowowa embraces, embellishes, and celebrates the peculiarities of the Australian ugliness in all her vernacular excellence’ Monique elaborates. ‘Armed with nothing but pure conviction and the belief I could make any home beautiful, we purchased one of Northcote’s most dilapidated joints.’
Monique and Scott completed some initial ‘emergency renovations’ to improve the home’s liveability, including re-stumping, insulating, installing hydronic heating, and turning a 1970s sunroom addition into an en suite.
A much larger renovation of the home was designed years later, while Monique was on maternity leave. The ambition — exceptional colour across ‘yummy’ and beautifully detailed spaces. ‘I wanted it to be a warm nostalgic hug, and I imagined marinating in the joy of it all summer long,’ Monique says.
The front bedrooms of the existing home were retained, followed by a new extension with a soaring six-metre-high glazed brick wall on the north boundary. ‘This would usually not be allowed due to ResCode (Victoria’s residential building code), but due to the orientation and the neighbours having already renovated, this was not a problem,’ explains Monique. ‘My fantasy is to one day have this completely covered in paintings.’
The new east-facing kitchen, living, and dining space is rich with tactile materials and deep hues. Magenta tones appear in varying degrees of intensity – pink travertine accents, red gum timber surfaces, terrazzo floors, and painted joinery that mirrors the colour of Moniques parent’s Sydney home in the 1980s.
Complementary browns, caramels, blues, greens, and golds all contribute to an immersive tapestry of joyous colour, while the south-facing rooms are painted Dulux White Polar Quarter to maximise light bounce.
The detailed rear facade of the home with its arched screen is both a nod to the original detailing of California bungalows, and Moorish architecture, inspired by the couple’s favourite holiday destinations. ‘I love using old world references in our work,’ says Monique. ‘A fresh take on something familiar is what we call the ‘extraordinary ordinary’, and we pepper these all through our projects.’
Architects are known to give each of their projects names, and for Monique and Scott, this home has become known simply as ‘Magic’. A reminder of the beauty and miraculousness that can be found in everyday life, as well as a reference to Never Stop Group’s incredible craftsmanship, which resulted in a construction period of just nine months.
‘I tried to design a home to be more present within and celebrate the small wins,’ Monique says. ‘Just like magic, our home manifested with very little fuss.’