Inside A Family's Very Stylish + Sophisticated Backyard Studio

This clever free-standing studio was built in the backyard of a Brunswick East family home as a more sustainable, cost-effective alternative to a traditional extension of their property.

The owners engaged interior designers Brave New Eco to replace their dilapidated garage with a functional second living room where their teenagers could study or socialise without feeling ‘on top of each other’.

Now, the timber-lined retreat makes the most of the northern sun, with views of a wonderfully leafy courtyard garden.

Christina Karras

Studio Studio was designed by Brave New Eco.

The new addition is built in the backyard of a family home.

‘By creating a stand-alone flexible space, we were able to capitalise on northern orientation, activate the courtyard garden and create separation for study guests and teen socialising,’ Brave New Eco’s Megan Norgate says.

Timber steps lead to the multi-purpose space.

A new ‘more people-friendly, bee and bird-friendly and productive’ garden completes the project.

Batten detailing on the walls and daybed was inspired by the client’s vintage shelving.

The daybed is nestled below a wide sliding window.

‘It was our mission to use as little plasterboard as possible in the interiors of this studio, and the timber-lined walls are a wonderful, warm solution.’ Dowel Jones side table.

The bathroom’s bold orange and charcoal scheme was inspired by mid-century houses.

In line with Brave New Eco’s ethos, sustainable upgrades like energy and water-efficient appliances have been selected, alongside recycled hardwood.

Christina Karras
19th of January 2024
Interior Design
Garden Design

Brunswick East, VIC/Wurundjeri Country

The need for more space is a familiar problem for most families living in Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs. But rather than extending their existing house, Brunswick East residents Katrina and Chris found a solution in the family home’s dilapidated garage.

‘The clients had a large disused area at the back of the garden with an old garage,’ Brave New Eco‘s Megan Norgate says.

‘They needed another living area (that could also become a spare bedroom when required) and a second bathroom, to be able to socialise concurrently with their teenage children —without being on top of one another.’

Demolishing the existing garage made way for a thoughtful, custom-designed studio that ticked all the boxes. The new 27-square-metre space features an open floorplan, with a study nook, storage, a day bed, and a bathroom.

‘It’s an alternative to an expensive extension to the home, which would have necessitated the demolishing of a previous extension and the loss of previous upgrades, such as the new kitchen,’ Megan adds.

Timber battening sourced from sustainable suppliers CERES Fair Wood lines the studio’s interiors, layered with natural textures low-emission cork flooring and plywood — creating a warm and cosy atmosphere that avoids feeling like a ‘white box’.

‘We drew inspiration from mid-century aesthetics to create a palette of charcoal, orange and blue,’ Megan says, highlighting the bold orange door, tap and ceramic light in the otherwise utilitarian bathroom.

The addition has also improved the owner’s connection with the backyard, turning it into a central courtyard garden. Large windows open up to frame views of Katrina and Chris’ ‘more people-friendly, bee and bird-friendly and productive’ garden, re-designed by Miri Ransom of Daily Gardener, who anchored the compact build with leafy plantings.

‘Our changes have transformed the way our clients live in their home, giving them a multi-use space for living, working and entertaining,’ Megan says.

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