Monty Sibbel is one of the enduring homes by Sibbel Builders — who are widely regarded as one of Melbourne’s most significant designers and builders of mid-century modern homes.
The Montmorency residence is a ‘bush modernist’ type of house, with thick, sawn exposed timber beams, brick, and windows that nod to Sibbels’ distinctive craftsmanship, and the overarching architecture of the 1970s.
It’s a quintessential retro gem set amongst eucalyptus trees. But when Nüüd Studio’s Brad Mitchell and Kerli Valk bought it four years ago, it was in a tired condition.
‘Many of its original features were hidden under layers of paint or lost to years of disrepair,’ architect Brad says. Previous renovations had ‘clouded’ the structured floorplan and the existing white laminate joinery had seen ‘more than a decade of wear and tear’.
As the new custodians, the couple have carefully peeled back these layers to reveal the home’s bones. Not only have they restored it to its original glory, but they’ve improved on its honest, solid, and endearing qualities.
Their renovations respected the existing fabric — which placed open living areas along the north and the ‘quieter’ spaces of the bedrooms and bathrooms to the south. Simple reconfigurations made space for a powder room, while a new door at the rear opened the house to its surrounding gardens, making it feel truly at home within the bushy landscape.
‘A small material palette of native timbers was used for joinery and floors, and soft tones of lime paint reflect the changing hues of towering eucalypts,’ Brad adds.
‘The joinery throughout the house are the real new interventions, and we spent a lot of time designing these. The timber bench tops are beautiful to work on and they have such a richness and character. The refined edges gently curve and feather, which really softens the otherwise rigid existing fabric of the house.’
Unable to remove the paint from the brick walls in the living room without damage, these were re-painted in a new cement render, to reflect the original brick tone. Carpet and tiling throughout the house was replaced with solid blackbutt timber flooring to create a cohesive base for the warm, earthy and modest interiors.
‘At only 100 square metres, [Monty Sibbel] also represents a search for a compact, efficient, and affordable home of its time,’ Brad notes.
These principles of efficiency have been improved upon further by Brad and Kerli, with significant updates to the home’s thermal performance. The restored windows have been modified with high-performance glazing, old gas appliances have been replaced with electric ones, and additional insulation has been installed throughout the home.
Brad says the house now has a calmness and clarity that it lacked before. And their thoughtful restoration has helped preserve and enrich this timeless Melbourne home for many years to come.
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