AFL player Ben Brown and marriage celebrant Hester Brown bought an arts and crafts house in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne in 2017 with plans to make it their long-term family home.
The existing house was charming, but had issues typical of its age, including having no connection to its north-facing backyard.
Hester and Ben initially chatted with a draftsperson about updating the home, before meeting with Kuzman Architecture who outlined a more cohesive and comprehensive overhaul.
‘We wanted lots of storage, light and fun… A little bit quirky and definitely homey. We didn’t want the place to feel too serious or fancy or like it wasn’t designed with kids in mind,’ says Hester.
‘We wanted a nice outdoor space for the cats to enjoy, a basketball ring in the backyard to encourage us all to play together, and some colour around the place.’
Interventions to the existing home were kept to a minimum (to keep costs down and retain original features), leaving the original vestibule, sitting room, and two bedrooms. This space now functions as Hester’s reception and office, that can be closed off from the rest of the house as desired via a pink hallway door.
The original bathroom with retro blue fixtures was one of Hester and Ben’s favourite rooms, but it was occupying a prime position in the middle of the house. It needed to go in favour of a new glazed link that connects the cottage to a new two storey wing.
The original kitchen was also demolished to make room for the newly-positioned bathroom, and create a larger main bedroom with an en suite and walk-in wardrobe.
With its arched tiled double vanities, pink tiles and coloured grout, one could easily assume the main bathroom remains in original condition, until reaching the freestanding bath overlooking the lush and secure new ‘kitty courtyard.’
‘Hester wanted escapism, with a bath big enough for Ben, and a garden view. Arches, pink tiles and tree ferns — perfect for pampering!’ says Sandi Kuzman, director of Kuzman Architecture.
In the new extension, full height glass doors slide away to open up the entire rear of the house to the backyard designed by Three Acres Landscape Design. Here, the family can often be found shooting hoops or picking produce.
Upstairs houses two additional bedrooms and another bathroom. While these spaces are entirely new, they capture the essence of the wider house, through whimsical detailing and the integration of the original bathroom’s blue fixtures.
‘The kids bathroom is as charming as the original one was, but has loads of practical features, like a long bench seat for Ben and Hester during bath time, with storage under for bath toys and towels’ says Sandi.
Ben and Hester gave Kuzman Architecture complete artistic licence over the design of their home, and it shows in the confident use of colour and materials. ‘We were able to translate their personalities, interests and requirements into a joyous, bright, fun home that still provides all the practical qualities needed for a busy functional family home,’ says
The focus is now light, colour, texture, and pattern — reinforcing the home’s liveability and lovability.
A 4000 litre rainwater harvesting system and 6kW solar system add to the home’s credentials.
‘It just feels like it all makes sense now,’ Hester says.