A new level and reworked interiors give this Victorian home modern functionality

Clever internal reorganisation and the addition of another level have transformed this Victorian terrace house, with award-winning results

A zinc-clad addition to this Victorian home fits architecture, building, facade, house, property, real estate, residential area, white
A zinc-clad addition to this Victorian home fits well with the mixed architecture seen from the laneway, but is stepped back from the street and co-joined neighbour. The extra level is part of an extensive makeover by Julie Firkin Architects.

As is often the case with an older home, an ill-considered earlier addition had to be stripped out before this more thoughtful renovation by architect Julie Firkin could be introduced. The lean-to added to the rear of the house in the 60s had included a bathroom, kitchen and laundry. The extension had been inward looking, noisy and drafty creating a claustrophobic feel.

"While loving her neighbours and the area, the owner initially wanted to upsize to achieve more bedrooms, a relaxed indoor-outdoor flow and contemporary, light-filled living spaces.

"By reconfiguring the rear of her Victorian home and adding another level on top, I was able to achieve all of this in the existing house."

"Responding to by-law limitations on the historic frontage, we had to retain the envelope of the front two rooms and were able to retain the aesthetic of the front room and corridor, as glimpsed from the street," says the architect. 

"However, from the living spaces right out to the back of the home, everything has changed."

The house sits on a sloping site, meaning the stud height at the rear is much higher than the stud at the front of the home. 

Prior to this makeover, the house was essentially on one level, with the seven steps from the living spaces to the dining area and further steps down to the garden negotiating the dropping ground level.

"With the 60s refit gone we were able to create an open flow to the new rear yard with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and a wall-sized picture window above," says Firkin. 

"Inside, we divided up the soaring rear volume created by the drop away in two ways vertically with a new mezzanine level, to be used as a study, and horizontally in terms of ceiling height and use."

This modern new kitchen, designed by architect Julie architecture, ceiling, daylighting, floor, house, interior design, living room, loft, real estate, room, table, gray
This modern new kitchen, designed by architect Julie Firkin, features white surfaces, a back-painted glass splashback and low-upkeep concrete floors. The kitchen is only a few steps from the dining table and the back yard.

Introducing the mezzanine floor naturally resulted in a low ceiling height directly beneath it and the architect slotted the contemporary, white perimeter kitchen into this central area.

The other side of the rear volume is given over to the dining area. This achieves a refined air from the double-height void that rises above it, past the mezzanine to the 4.5m stud ceiling.

"The sense of internal space is accentuated in other ways, too," says Firkin. 

"The open-plan lounge looks down and through the dining area, creating long sightlines. Elements like the stairs and the gas fire are built into the internal formwork for an uncluttered aesthetic."

In addition, the custom riserless stairs further optimise sightlines, and let natural light flood right back through the interior from the newly glazed rear wall.

The simple tonal palette of tongue and groove, engineered oak floor and stairs matched with white surfaces adds to the feeling of space.

Upstairs, past the mezzanine, lies Firkin's other key design stroke a contemporary extra level containing the master suite and a bedroom.

A tall window to the left of this architecture, building, condominium, elevation, facade, home, house, property, real estate, residential area, white, gray
A tall window to the left of this rear facade brings light into the staircase behind. The renovation is by Julie Firkin Architects.

"While the existing cladding is in red brick, we finished the addition in raised seam zinc cladding. Rather than blending in, this offers a striking contrast to the classic facade."

However, a raked roofline plays down the new level from the semi-detached neighbour and the rectilinear form is stepped back from the street at the front, so is not visible from there. At the back, the clean-lined form cantilevers out over the yard, for shade and shelter.

"The home is situated in a bustling inner-city neighbourhood," says Firkin. "So, to achieve a quiet retreat on this master bedroom level, the addition features double-clad construction."

The design achieved a 7-star energy rating, with ESD consultants engaged to advise on sustainable design aspects for water and energy use.

Credit list

Julie Firkin Architects
Kitchen design
Julie Firkin Architects
Landscape designer
Patrick Belford
Colorbond Lysaght Kliplok, steel
Living area and mezzanine Tongue n Groove, engineered oak flooring; dining and kitchen area concrete topping slab in Boralstone Snowdrift
Caesarstone in Organic White
Franke Pyra
Vzug induction
Pendants from About Space; LED recessed lighting from Beacon
Bathroom vanity
Two-pac paint White on White by Dulux
Kado Arc
Ensuite bathroom walls
Frameless toughened glass
Camson Homes
Kitchen manufacturer
elZinc zinc cladding
AWS, aluminium framed
Kitchen cabinetry
Two-pac paint White on White by Dulux
Kitchen sink
Franke Largo Lax
Frameless toughened glass
Hydronic heating by The Heat Shop; Jetmaster gas fire
Mark Tuckey
Kaldewei Sanilux
Roca Meridian
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA)

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Peter Bennetts

01 Dec, 2019

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