An intelligent alteration and addition converted this 1860s cottage into a stunning modern house
The existing cottage was a solid-brick single-storey terrace dating from the 1860s. The house is located in inner-city Melbourne and was dark and damp, with a claustrophobic plan. The client’s brief to architect Terence Nott from Nott Architecture was to maximise the potential of the property within a modest budget.
Specifically, the client’s brief included a minimum of two good-sized bedrooms, with one of these bedrooms to have an ensuite or bathroom nearby. A large open dining, living and kitchen area opening onto the rear garden was also specified, as was the need to maximise the potential of the east-facing rear garden area. Plenty of storage space was also specified and the latest modern kitchen and bathroom appointments. The client also wanted the front façade of the property retained.
Terence Nott describes his work on the project as “an alteration and addition to an 1860s single-storey brick terrace. Only the front bedroom is retained while the rest of the house was demolished. A ground and first-floor addition was constructed at the rear. The main aim of the design was to introduce more light and space into the interior. The living area opens up to the sheltered rear garden to provide an extended entertaining space. The courtyard is thus maximised to facilitate mixed indoor-outdoor living.
“Due to the tight site, spaces in the house had to be carefully planned. The laundry is neatly hidden behind cupboards in the bathroom. Openings above the stair and in the side walls setback at first floor provide interesting views to the street and rear lane without overlooking neighbours’ gardens. Low-maintenance materials and light colours were utilised throughout the house. Easy-to-clean light-brown floor tiles hide the dirt and run from the inside through to the courtyard. The matching commercial-grade carpet provides some homely comfort in the bedrooms. Feature walls in grey and blue at strategic locations next to the joinery visually enhance the otherwise simple living spaces.
“The sculptured kitchen and staircase are points of interest in the house. At night, these design features come alive. The timber and steel staircase has a platform with lights under it such that it appears to be floating. Shadows from the steel balustrade create fascinating shapes on the surrounding walls and ceiling. The lights above the light-blue kitchen overhead cupboards throw a soft glow onto the walls. In-ground lights on the rear wall of the courtyard create mood lighting when night falls.
The steel stair design was a carefully resolved solution. It had to be easily constructed and economical while at the same time be a visual statement in the living spaces.”
For the architect Terence Nott, there were several environmental features that he wanted incorporated into the design. “Cross ventilation is provided to the first-floor bedroom. Skylights are double glazed to retain heat during winter. A small water tank in the courtyard collects storm water from the roof to be used in the garden. Other low-energy design features include large windows facing east with large overhangs. A low-cost design approach was adopted as the design had to represent “good value for money” for the client.
“Our client saw this project mainly as an investment opportunity to improve a house that he had purchased and in which his son lived. Gradually he became more involved and enthusiastic about the design process. The client is very pleased with the completed project and even stated that he would like to move in, as it was ‘too good for his son’.”
For Terence, “our favourite is the new room opening from the kitchen wall to the backyard, giving a feeling of the room being 11 metres long when the rear doors are opened. When designing the first-floor accommodation, we tried to achieve a maximum building envelope while at the same time considering neighbours’ amenities. During construction it was a challenge to try to build on both boundaries in tight spaces.
“The property is located in a heritage overlay area. We were requested by council planning staff and their heritage advisor to reduce the bulk of the first floor such that it was beyond the sight lines of the street. The design had to be sensitive to the streetscape. The first-floor addition is a simple cube with timber cladding and is of similar bulk and height to its neighbours. From the street, the upper level disappears from perspective.
“Originally, the client was pessimistic about what could be achieved. We thought the little cottage front of the house was charming and set about the challenge of providing the client’s accommodation requirements. The spaces flow beautifully together, there is a great feeling of space. The house is magic at night and the client is happy.”
The project was designed/built by Nott Architecture
Project Team: Terence Nott, Fiona Tepper, Wan Kwong
ADDRESS: 24 McKean Street, North Fitzroy
PHONE: (03) 9489 8863
BUILDER: Rex Building Pty Ltd
PHONE: (03) 9482 3115
LICENCE NUMBER: DB-U12636
INTERIOR DESIGNER: Nott Architecture
PHOTOGRAPHER: Greg Sims Photography
Kitchen: Tiles (from Perini Tiles — Richmond)
Dining: Tiles (from Perini Tiles — Richmond)
Living: Tiles (from Perini Tiles — Richmond)
Stair: Steel stringers with Vic ash treads
Outdoor: Tiles (from Perini Tiles — Richmond)
Casual Dining: Timber-framed walls with Plasterboard
Kitchen: Timber-framed walls with Plasterboard
Dining: Timber-framed walls with Plasterboard
Living: Timber-framed walls with Plasterboard
Bedroom: Timber-framed walls with Plasterboard
Stair: Steel stringers with Vic ash treads
Outdoor: Render finish on brick walls
Paint: Dulux Natural White on all walls, feature wall in Dining Dulux Warm Granite, Feature wall in Bedroom Dulux June
Benchtop: Laminex “Fossil”
Splashback: Brown rectangular Tiles (from ‘Perini Tiles — Richmond)
Laminex “Fresh Spring”, “China Blue”, “Fossil”
Other: Stainless-steel pelmet
SANITARY FIXTURES + BATHROOM FITTINGS:
Shower Set Caroma Liano
Vanity Basin Caroma Laser
Toilet Suite Caroma Leda 2000 Smartflush
Stair: 3 Ilmas OD-6012 wall lights
Bath/Laundry: 1 Kreadesign Split 18 wall light
Ensuite: 1 Kreadesign Split 54 wall light
Rear Garden: 2 CP 80 external ground lights
WINDOWS + EXTERNAL DOORS: Aluminium
Floor Tiles (from Perini Tiles — Richmond)
Bluescope Colorbond rainwater tank, timber screen