Home to a growing family who love to entertain, the design for the Spotted Gum Northcote House required some savvy use of spatial awareness to accommodate the family’s brief. Cue Melbourne architectural and interior design firm Taylor Knights. Specialising in residential renovations that encapsulate a timeless, playful and innovative connection to the outdoors, Taylor Knights was selected to scope out a new light-filled language for this heritage home located in Melbourne’s eclectic suburb of Northcote.
Occupying a long and narrow block with a south facing backyard and rear lane access, the family were keen to keep the heritage frontage but craved a more modern, light-filled, double storey addition to the rear. An extension that bearing in mind, needed to house four bedrooms, two living rooms, an open plan kitchen, dining area, lounge area and a rooftop terrace – all within a modest footprint. Phew.
According to Taylor Knights, the key to addressing the brief was thinking about the individual spaces as multi-functional zones. Each space needed to be able to respond to the demands of a busy family, meaning flexibility was paramount. Double height voids and eastern skylight windows allow the house to be in constant connection with the external environment, giving residents the ability to control the ventilation, light flow and movement of the outside world.
A trio of timber, white and black form the crux of the colour palette throughout the house and keep lines clean and simple.
A smooth transition from the street front to the back is expressed through the traditional ceiling arches that lead through to a modern steel portal. Heritage detail at the front is replaced by contemporary touches at the back, and the privacy of the upstairs sleeping and living quarters creates an equally interesting contrast to the sociable atmosphere of the downstairs living areas.
True to its name, Australian spotted gum wood can be seen in a variety of tones and textures throughout the home. Used to cover surfaces in both perforated and smooth panels, the dark-grained wood is both timeless and durable while creating an immersive, visually calming element throughout the home.
Grey-veined marble countertops in the bathroom and kitchen, black perforated metal kitchen cupboards and polished concrete flooring all add a depth to the otherwise controlled material palette. Earthy tones and a relaxed yet refined edge are the obvious aesthetic here, yet the design is careful not to take itself too seriously; there are plenty of fun bursts of colour blocking and feature lighting to liven things up along the way.
The Jardan Nook sofa in a cobalt blue velvet makes a strong style statement next to the rattan inspired Colony Armchair designed by Skrivo for Miniforms in the living room. Meanwhile, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were literally “walking on sunshine” with the sunny disposition of the perforated yellow metal staircase and lemon carpeted stairwells. Sitting directly under a retractable skylight, it’s this use of yellow that has been used to define the circulation spaces throughout the home- as well as introduce some cheery playfulness along the way.
Lighting throughout the home has been given a modern refresh, including a Buster + Punch Hooked exposed bulb chandelier that hangs from the living room ceiling rose and above the dining table keep things current and contemporary while the Caravaggio wall lights in the bedroom create a sense of clean refinement.
In summary, if it’s all about the heritage terrace façade out the front, then it’s most definitely about the display of contemporary modernism inside. This is a project capable of both concealing and revealing with some contrasting and sunny surprises along the way.
Unite natural materials with sleek modern forms for a strong style statement.