Explore a Cultivated Terrace Transformation

  • From the narrow street in South Yarra, this three-storey Victorian terrace shows its traditional hallmarks – wrought-iron lace detailing on its verandah and leadlight above the front door.

    Adjacent to a bluestone lane, the side entrance functions as the main point of arrival. And while the original few rooms of the terrace have been retained, the new wing, in perforated faceted steel, is unashamedly contemporary. It sets the tone for the new Poliform kitchen – which owners Andrew O’Brien and Cathryn McArthur, who have two young daughters, worked with Alessandro Spina from Poliform and director of namesake studio Kestie Lane to bring to life.

    Produced in partnership with Poliform

    Expansive surfaces and streamlined volumes define the Poliform kitchen, including its island bench.  The Artex kitchen’s island bench is finished in a Quartzite stone with diamond-shaped tiles used for the base, which has been repeated in the splashback.

    Poliform’s Black Elm veneer joinery concealed all appliances, including the Sub-Zero Integrated fridge and freezer, and Miele flush-mounted induction cooktop, oven, steam combi oven and warming drawer.

     The kitchen island conceals a fully integrated Miele dishwasher and various waste bins. It also features a large undermount sink and drawers to house cutlery and a knife rack. Rakumba pendant light designed by Studio Truly Truly.

    “We wanted a strong European feel to the kitchen, something you might find in London or Brussels, something quite moody and textured…”


    – Client Andrew O’Brien

    The Poliform appliance pantry unit has been customised to feature double-pocket doors and includes LED spotlights, a fixed steel shelf and an extractable steel table. The joinery enables the design to ‘read’ as kitchen furniture.

    The Black Elm Poliform Concorde table designed by Emmanuel Gallina is a sleek contrast to the dining room’s textural palette.

    The original formal dining and living areas are now the open plan kitchen and dining area, with French doors leading to a compact front garden designed by Eckersley Garden Architecture. And while the leadlight remains, there’s a new glass front door that increases the light. “We wanted a strong European feel to the kitchen, something you might find in London or Brussels, something quite moody and textured,” Andrew says, who enjoys cooking and entertaining family and friends with Cathryn.

    As the three-storey terrace is only six metres in width, the kitchen joinery extends into the dining area, with Poliform’s timber-stained joinery concealing everything from the fridge at one end to the freezer at the other, the latter not used as frequently by the couple. And in the middle, the cupboards reveal a pull-out stainless-steel shelf that allows for food preparation with appliances nearby. These cupboards don’t extend to the ceiling to enable the kitchen joinery to ‘read’ as furniture.

    The tactile finish accentuates the staircase’s curved form.

    Kestie Lane designed striking custom shelving in the living area using Rocaro Granite.

    The bedroom features the Kelly bed with an upholstered, curved bedhead and Kelly bedside table designed by Emmanuel Gallin, made in Italy.

    The Poliform Ego wardrobe system features sheer glass doors for streamlined organisation. Polished surfaces, transparency and lightness characterise the walk-in-robe.

    Sensor LED lamps illuminate the Poliform wardrobe.

    Pivotal to the design is the island bench, finished in Quartzite stone from Artedomus, as are the diamond-shaped tiles used for the splashback and also at the base of the island bench. “The bench feels more like leather, and the colours pick up on the bronze hue of the glass cabinets, one to conceal the flue and the other to display glasses,” Kestie says, pointing out the bronze and copper flecks in the island benchtop. Its deep drawers and ease of opening also appealed to Andrew and Cathryn, as well as Kestie’s suggestion to go with Rakumba pendant light designed by Studio Truly Truly. The Rakumba pendant light comprises a series of moveable lights along a steel frame offering flexible and targeted lighting where it’s needed. “It certainly creates a sense of being in a gallery,” Kestie says, pointing out the bagged white painted brick wall that is part of the original Victorian terrace.

    When it came to appliances, it’s Miele for the two ovens concealed within the kitchen joinery together with a Miele cooktop and Sub Zero for the fridge and freezer. “Things can be functional and still beautiful to look at,” Andrew says, who likes the fact that their kitchen isn’t the usual offering – shiny white with a strong dose of marble. And when the meals are ready, what better way to enjoy them than sitting at the Poliform dining table, finished with bronze glass and framed by deep teal leather-covered chairs. On warmer days, the doors to the front courtyard are left open and the smell of the barbeque draws the family outside.

    The bagged white painted brick walls express the original Victorian terrace.

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