On The Market

An Architect’s Cherished Family Home In Melbourne’s West Is For Sale

Architect Shelley Penn and her family first fell in love with this Williamstown house (and its ‘seaside’ inner-Melbourne neighbourhood) as renters in 2005.

After about a year of living in the double-fronted Victorian, they purchased it from the owners. Shelley went on to design a careful renovation that beautifully modernised the 1893 home, centring it around the lush garden, and bringing in a range of ‘hidden’ practical, sustainable features.

It’s been their beloved family home for almost two decades, but now it’s on the market!

Christina Karras
Supported By The Vendor

The period home has been extended at the rear to feature an open-plan living, kitchen and dining area.

Expansive double-glazed windows and sliding doors maximise garden views and natural sunlight.

The polished concrete slab floor hides hydronic heating below.

Shelley renovated the home in 2013.

The design took a sensitive approach to building on the home’s heritage character, using natural materials like stone and dark-stained timber lining.

‘The dining room and kitchen open up completely to a large deck where we eat, sit in the sun or shade, and entertain,’ Shelley says.

‘By planting deciduous species integrated within the house, it’s always sunny in winter, and shaded in summer, and we feel the seasons in the most beautiful way.’

View from the fourth bedroom, which the family has also used as a second living space, reading room and study over the years.

The interiors are equal parts modern and elegant.

One of two bathrooms on the property.

The bedrooms have retained their ornamental period ceilings, fireplaces, and timber floorboards.

The hallway.

Establishing the thriving front garden and rear gardens has been an ongoing labour of love for the owners.

Christina Karras
12th of February 2024

Williamstown, VIC/Bunurong Country

After a stint living in country Victoria, award-winning architect Shelley Penn and her family moved into what they thought would be a temporary rental in Williamstown, nestled into Melbourne’s inner western suburbs.

‘We liked the way Williamstown felt like a seaside village but was only 25 minutes by train from the city,’ Shelley says.

‘While renting, we were looking for a house to buy in the next suburb, but kept coming home and loving the character of the old house, the huge block, the way the site gained northern sun all year round, and the incredible location.’

They decided to try their luck and called the landlord in hopes of buying the beloved property. Much to Shelley’s delight, the owners had been living in Sydney and were already considering selling. Fast-forward a few months, and they agreed to hand over the keys permanently!

Shelley redesigned the house in 2013. In addition to modernising the interiors with stone and dark timbers, expanding the living areas, and reworking the floorplan around the large gardens, she used passive design principles to reduce the home’s energy usage.

Inside, elegant stained-glass details and period details are paired with large skylights and double-glazed windows to maximise natural sunlight. The original verandah opens onto ‘burnt ash’ floor boards, one of few new materials introduced into the older part of the house. These change to polished concrete floors in the newly constructed extension, where a sliding door opens completely to an outdoor deck, while the abundant deciduous vines and trees provide shade in summer and welcoming sunlight in winter.

‘The home feels like an oasis,’ she adds. ‘I love the fact that there are lots of important practical things that are doing their work out of sight… like 6,000L water tanks under the deck that provide water for the veggie garden and fruit trees, a 6kW solar array aligned with the roof — the kinds of things that make life a breeze when they work.’

And nestled into the lush garden, there’s also a self-contained studio. Shelley says it’s been an ideal workspace, but it can easily be converted into a teenage retreat, or a space for ageing grandparents to come stay.

‘This has been our family home and it’s really well suited to a family group — whatever kind of mix of family that might be,’ she explains. ‘It has been really special to me, my former partner and our boys, but now my sons are starting to head out into the world, and I need less space.’

They’ve now listed the five-bedroom house at 34 Ann Street for sale. Despite feeling mixed emotions about leaving the eclectic home and the decades’ worth of memories behind, Shelley says her family knows it’s the right time: ‘We just hope someone who loves it as much as we do takes over and enjoys it.’

34 Ann Street, Williamstown, VIC 3016 is for sale with Michael Loutakis from Williams Real Estate and will go to auction on Saturday February 24 at 10:30am.

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