Melrose Terrace

This modest package of spaces, built elements and details have been carefully tailored to the requirements of an enterprising retired couple who have downsized to the inner north of Melbourne. Having relocated from their generous family home down on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, the couple were prepared to compromise on space but not function; this small statured home was to be as comfortable and accommodating as their previous. 

With such a small/modest floor area to work with, a comprehensive concept design process was undertaken in which an understanding of how the owners wanted to use each space was gleaned. Every square millimetre was allocated a function, creating spaces and elements larger than they needed to be was simply not an option. For example, previously unusable space underneath the staircase was optimised via the sequential insertion of multiple amenities.

Other than the brick party walls, the entire ground floor was stripped to a blank canvas and acutely redesigned; so an understanding of how the owners wanted to use each space was essential in delivering a successful project. The ground floor section of the rear facade was removed and extended approx. 1m to bring it in line with the existing weatherboard facade above. A new rear tiled facade, accomodating the window lounge extrusion, was then implemented as was a rooftop terrace at the front of the building.

Several other methods were employed (e.g custom furniture, grouping of amenities, rooftop terrace) within the design to not only bring maximum function to the project but create enough ‘relief’ space to avoid a cramped or overcrowded feel throughout.

Despite the modest area to work with on the ground floor, each of the dining room, kitchen and living room are inherent of a comfort and voluminous character that is more associated with a larger home. This is achieved through some non-traditional design solutions that include the front entry opening into the dining room and the sequencing of amenities – behind a singular wall – including the walk-in pantry, store room, laundry and powder room.

Custom built-in furniture features prominently, the ability to design and somewhat slot the furniture in like a piece of puzzle enabled us to eliminate dead or wasted area that compromised function, flow and interaction. Demonstrating how this concept was important even on a smaller scale is the custom console designed by this studio. Located at the front entry, its intricate and finely tuned details greet you upon entering as does the unique application of timber, brass and porcelain paneling.

Not only genuinely innovative, the built in component in the living room is intrinsic to the successful outcome of the overall design. A singular built element integrates shelving, side table, lounge, daybed and casement windows, this freeing up valuable space at the rear of the ground floor for accessing the outdoor terrace and general flow.

This window lounge – this studios contemporary translation of a traditional bay window – opens out to the garden terrace via two striking casement windows. When open, the lounge literally becomes immersed in the garden, whose lush greenery in turn becomes part of the living room.

Surprising new visitors at the front of the property, the rooftop terrace brings yet another innovative yet highly contributory component to the project. Accessed from the main bedroom, this space in essence becomes another living space for the owners. More specifically, it has been designed for small social gatherings where a custom steel pergola clad in timber battens provide enough solace from the sun whilst still delivering a beautiful dappled light. Again custom furniture is utilised in the form of a luxurious daybed whose structure, along with two garden planters, is intertwined with that of the pergola.

Photography by Dean Bradley

Architecture & Design by Dan Gayfer Design

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