Anna’s House

Anna’s House sees the transformation of a tired Brunswick weatherboard workers cottage into a considered, practical and comfortable home. Situated on a small site with close neighbours in Melbourne, the design had to incorporate clever space efficient design methods to allow the living spaces and gardens to feel open and spacious.

The project incorporates passive solar design principals to catch northern light while ensuring it doesn’t get too hot in summer. With a client that was open to finding the best sustainable solutions tailored to her project, Gardiner Architects sought to ensure the design did everything it could to positively impact the environment and neighbourhood. The period house was transformed into a comfortable; light filled home that is fit for purpose while flexible with great connection to outdoor spaces.

Gardiner Architects decided it was best to retain the more solid, heritage section of the house to the front, fixing it up as needed while removing the substandard back section. The client, Anna, felt strongly about having the front of the house restored to match the period features of the adjacent terraces. Gardiner Architects removed the 1970’s concrete porch and added back in a timber deck and bullnose roof. Repairs to the worn out weatherboards was also needed.

The front porch is much more inviting to sit out on and connect with neighbours. So, repairing the old house rather than making a whole new architectural statement was a valid approach and respectful of what was already there on the street. It also allowed for the budget and provided opportunity to play off the old and have a bit of fun with the new.

Walking through the home from the front entry, you see the retained front two rooms and hall. What was an awkward walkthrough living space, has been transformed into the bathroom and study. The corridor that connects the old and new sections of the house has a separate toilet, a laundry and a whole lot of storage coming off each side.

Doubling up a corridor with service areas is a space saving tactic that assists with the efficient use of space in small footprint homes.

Usable bench space with drawers below runs under the window along the corridor, which can be used as a part of the kitchen.

A courtyard allows for more areas of the house to connect to outside. The study looks into the courtyard, as does the corridor. The new open plan living space has a raised ceiling to give a sense of spaciousness while opening up even more to northern sun and views to both garden spaces.

Anna has a beautiful collection of old furniture and art. A mix of special pieces from her family and relics from her travels around the world, that collectively have a very warm and rich aesthetic. She loves the warmth of timber, as do we, so timber flooring and cabinetry was incorporated.

The simple palette of timber and white allows Anna’s art and furniture to bring character to the spaces without being dominated by the architectural expression. The architects weren’t seeking a minimalist approach, just a backdrop for all her beautiful belongings to sit within. The spaces have a comfortable feel while being open and full of natural light.

Photography by Tess Kelly

Architecture & Design by Gardiner Architects

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