Designing a Compact Family Home with Maria Danos Architecture

  • The Henry Street Townhouses in Windsor by Melbourne-based architecture practice Maria Danos Architecture are a lesson in small-scale functionality and sophisticated family living.

    Maria Danos Architecture’s latest project – two adjoining townhouses in inner-city Melbourne – demonstrates compact family living at its finest, with an emphasis on tonal layering, ease of flow and a series of indoor-outdoor spaces.

    We spoke to director Maria Danos to learn the importance of spatial planning throughout and the role of locally sourced materials and robust fixtures and fittings in their newest project.

    Produced in partnership with Phoenix

    Entering the townhouse, a narrow window-lined hallway leads to the rear of the home, designed for entertaining and hosting friends. The internal staircase void in the centre of the home acts as a transition from the private spaces to the communal kitchen, dining and living space while drawing light in from the skylight three storeys above.

    Chocolate oak flooring, stained timber veneer cabinetry and ebony Tasmanian-crafted joinery pulls offset the grey stone splashback and benchtop in the kitchen. The kitchen is complete with integrated Fisher & Paykel appliances throughout and a built-in mini-bar concealed within the joinery. A custom-designed stem pendant by Melbourne lighting artisan GiffinDesign traverses three levels through the void and adds a personalised design edge to the family home, subtly linking each floor to the next. 

    “As a townhouse with spatial considerations, one of the strategies included a curvilinear island bench enabling comfortable access around the bench for perching and ease of movement in the home.” 


    – Director Maria Danos

    The kitchen features the Vivid Slimline Pull Out Sink Mixer from Phoenix in their smooth Gunmetal finish, offsetting the stone splashback and stained timber cabinetry.

    Given the compact nature of the home, the kitchen needed to serve as both a functional work environment and a contemporary backdrop to the dining and living areas. “As a townhouse with spatial considerations, strategies included a curvilinear island bench enabling comfortable access around the bench for perching and ease of movement in the home,” Maria says.

    The designer says she implemented a ‘buy once, and buy well’ strategy when deciding on the fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom. “The tapware needed to meet the robust use in a family home, and in the spirit of sustainability, it was important to be resourceful and opt for products that would last,” Maria maintains.

    The Radii Metal Shelf with round plate and Vivid Slimline Shower Mixer in Phoenix’s signature Gunmetal finish cuts through the white kit-kat tiles in the master ensuite shower, creating an alluring visual display. ‘Perfectly imperfect’ handmade concrete basins contrast the veined dolomite stone and Vivid Slimline Wall Basin Mixer Set on the vanity. The laundry also features the Vivid Slimline Pull Out Sink Mixer from Phoenix.

    Maria says the depth, lustre and richness of the gunmetal finish resonated with the dark timber, tile and stone finishes throughout the home, making Phoenix an obvious choice to implement throughout the home. “Combined with the finesse of the shapes, the fixtures are like ‘jewels’ that crown the design,” she adds.

    The dining space comfortably seats six around the Melbourne-made John Bastiras Design Myron dining table, complemented by the iconic Hoffman chairs. A seamless transition to the family room follows into the outdoor entertaining area, where a built-in outdoor barbecue and HAY Palissade dining set makes for easy entertaining any time of the year. Upstairs, the walls are angled, minimising overshadowing and creating the illusion of more space. Sunflower-yellow carpet in the bedrooms cultivates warmth and subtly contrasts the paired-back colour palette.

    Through a balance of locally-sourced pieces and robust, tactile materials, the Windsor Townhouses by Maria Danos Architecture articulate contemporary family life on a compact urban footprint.

    Explore the Phoenix range in the est product library here. 

4 Responses

  1. Beautiful, serene, chill space. I love it! Can you tell me the source for the oval bathroom mirrors? Many thanks in advance for your help!!

  2. Hi Paula,

    Thanks for reaching out to est! These oval mirrors were custom designed by the architect and realised by Absymmetrix cabinetry.


    the est team

  3. Dear est team! Thank you so much for taking the time to field my inquiry. Clearly, I must be Australian in my soul as so much of the design that speaks to me hails from there. I found Artedomus by happenstance (on-line) as I was was sourcing tiles for my renovation and through their kindness and direction, was able to source amazing designs and materials and bathroom fixtures.

    Thank you for being a visual inspiration!!

    Warm regards,

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