Inside An Earthy Melbourne House With European-Inspired Flair

Built to replace an imitation period home from the ’90s, Terra Firma House by Robson Rak has been designed to stand the test of time.

The architecture of the new Melbourne home settles perfectly into its inner-eastern location, but the interiors reference details personal to the owners — including Spanish terracotta tiles they had first spotted in a French museum — and earthy materials that will only get better with age.

Christina Karras

Inside Terra Firma House by Robson Rak.

Counter stools from Great Dane Furniture. Volcanic Green Square Vase by Shanon Alpren from Pépite. No Front Jug by Daniel Leone. Large wall sculpture designed by Robson Rak built from Formanova. Small wall sculpture by Chris Rak.

A vine-covered courtyard runs alongside the house.

Painting by Chris Connell. Table custom made by Lowe Furniture. Ceramics by Mali Taylor from Pépite.

The wall sculpture was designed to bring live greenery inside the home.

The living room features a beautiful handmade terracotta floor tile that Robson Rak tracked down from Spain. Sail chairs from Apato Furniture.

Green joinery stands out against the textured plaster walls. Top shelf: sculpture by Chris Rak. Middle self: ceramics by Studio Mulders from Pépite. ‘Slush Smoke’ vase by Dawn Vachon. Artwork by Ricky Swallow.

‘Pool II’ painting by Annalisa Ferrari from James Makin Gallery.

Sliding doors open the living area to the rear courtyard.

Painting by Crispin Akerman.

Warm timber stairs lead to the upper level.

Pink table from Barbera Furniture.

Windows and skylights flood the interiors with natural light.

The bedroom. Painting by Chris Connell. Azabu Bench seat from Apato Furniture. Ceramic vessel by Lauren Joffe. Nagari Lounge Chair from Apato Furniture.

Wall light from Anchor Ceramics.

A fluted glass screen and square-edge mirrors bring a timeless touch to the bathroom.

The impressive walk-in wardrobe.

Brick and timber textures line the epic facade.

The view of the house from the rear. Table and chairs from Cosh Living.

Christina Karras
6th of February 2024
Architect + Interior Designer
Landscape designer

Melbourne, VIC/Wurundjeri Country

The design of this newly built Melbourne home by Robson Rak is so cohesive it creates an overwhelming sense of calm.

This is because every element was created with ‘a bespoke attitude’, according to principal interior architect Chris Rak.

The Melbourne-based practice was engaged by a downsizing couple, who were looking to replace a run-down mock period home with something that felt more connected to the heritage surrounds of its inner-eastern neighbourhood.

But the brief for the interiors called for something strictly individual and unique to them as the owners.

On a recent trip to France, they’d fallen in love with a unique interlocking terracotta floor tile that featured in Fondation Maeght, a private art museum built in 1964.

‘We were quite taken by [the tiles] as well, so after much research we managed to track down the original Spanish family company. They were still in possession of the moulds, so we had them produce a batch for this home,’ Chris says.

This incredible attention to detail helped set the tone for the resulting Terra Firma House. Even the solid plaster walls and textured ceilings are reminiscent of Venetian plaster, adding to the interior’s European-style sophistication.

For the facade, they opted for a pitched roof that mimicked the grand period architecture of some of the neighbouring homes, in addition to creating sweeping proportions inside.

‘Our vision was also to try and bring as much of the outside in,’ Chris says. Natural and earthy materials like the textural brick from the exterior is used again around the fireplace, the terracotta tiling spills outside from the living room into the rear garden, and the facade’s external timber battens continues into the hallway.

Subtle hints of green in the timber joinery — cleverly integrated with a banquette seat and matching green marble benchtops — and views into a vine-covered courtyard also help celebrate the home’s connection to nature.

‘We designed a steel wall sculpture, which allows foliage to grow, weaving a tapestry of green that separates kitchen and dining spaces,’ Chris adds.

Everything has been designed to age gracefully over time as they would in the natural world, so that the owners can continue to make their mark on this personal and inviting home.

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