Family homes are inherently emotional – how could they be otherwise? We grow up in these spaces, and whether they stay in our lives or pass to a new family there’s always a sense of history and meaning that drives as much of the building’s identity as its physical features.

This Caulfield South home had particularly emotional identity, originally built for the current owners immigrant grandparents who were Jewish holocaust survivors and emigrated to Australia in the 1960s. After their passing in 2013, the house lay dormant for over two years, before the current owners decided to extend and celebrate the life of their grandparents through extensive renovations.

Alongside its history within the owner’s family, the home carried architectural history from its initial 1960s build. Amongst the colourful patchwork of styles in Caulfield South the home was originally designed by Michael Richard Ernest Feldhagen, a modernist architect responsible for many of the singular residences and multi-residential flats around the Caulfield area, and featured custom joinery from local joiner Jakob Rudowski.

DESIGN Branch Studio Architects | PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Clarke

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The home’s history has been lovingly preserved and celebrated in the renovation, with the architectural goal of keeping the integrity of the original house and its memories. Its original brick veneer is preserved in the front facade, while existing wallpapers, chandeliers and building fabric were all kept. Rudowski’s beautiful original joinery was restored, and a number of existing sofas were reupholstered for a new life.

New elements have been introduced carefully and with contrast to the existing fabric. The rear and front timber windows were replaced with full height steel windows to bring rich warm light to the interior spaces, while contemporary furniture and joinery add depth to home’s colour palette and materiality. A new large deck extends the living space outside, while existing areas have been restructured to accomodate a modern lifestyle as well as the owner’s growing family.

In drawing on the family history of the home and its identity within the local landscape, the Writer’s House is a timeless gem amongst the quickly-disappearing original houses of Caulfield South. Bringing together the core features of the original build with the current owner’s lifestyle and family needs, the home beautifully looks forward and backward at once.

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Set in minimal white plaster and lime washed plywood finishings, the kitchen cabinetry hides away the details through a series of bi-folding and sliding panels. 

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The home took its new name from the profession of one of the owners, a screenwriter and journalist whose background drove the design concept of approaching the individual spaces within the house as chapters within a whole story.

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