When updating a house built in 1861, in Melbourne’s first suburb—Fitzroy no less—there was a lot to consider. For Rob Kennon Architects, it was imperative they preserve the “original fabric of the house” for their client, a young family. This meant making “small but potent changes,” according to architect Rob Kennon.
For this Melbourne home, small changes included introducing a bathroom into a previous second bedroom, while still maintaining the original ceiling.
Elsewhere, “a Roman archway was reappropriated as an entrance to a circulation space, flooded with natural light by a seemingly invisible skylight,” explains Kennon.
For practical reasons, it made sense to place the kitchen in the property’s former back-of-house section, while upstairs, two side-by-side elongated bedrooms feed off a secondary space that functions as a play or study room, depending on who is using it.
Working with materials such as bluestone, cement sheet, European Oak veneer, steel and plaster was another way of paying tribute to the original form of the house. “The [renovation] was deliberately quiet and recessive,” explains Kennon, who says the finished home now remains connected to the history and atmosphere of the original gold rush-era property.
He is quick to point out the tonal shifts across the home: “the study is calm; the entry is opulent; the kitchen is cosy although connected; the living spaces are outward looking and progressive; the bedrooms are playful and happy.”
For the young family living here, creating variety was a way of ensuring an environment “where family members can remain living in this small-scale dwelling, particularly as the younger occupants grow into adults,” says Kennon. With areas made for privacy and physical separation, we’d agree this Fitzroy home is perfectly built for the modern family.