Needing more room to accommodate their growing family, a young couple enlisted the help of North Melbourne-based McManus Lew Architects to turn their single-bedroom villa into a modern three-bedroom dwelling. Built in the 1960s as part of a 10-unit development, the property — dubbed Kew Villa — needed to maintain a consistent exterior appearance to match the neighboring buildings; however, the interiors could be changed to better fit the clients’ contemporary lifestyle. The home was also outfitted with solar panels that return excess energy to the power grid, a rainwater catchment system and recycled construction materials.
Spanning an area of a little over 1,300 square feet, the increased size of the Kew Villa was made possible with the purchase of a modestly sized and underutilized yard next to the original property. Since indoor/outdoor living was important to the clients, the architects not only retained the home’s existing south-facing courtyard but also added a new deck area on the north side that connects to the surrounding garden. Massive panes of glass and glazed doors create a seamless connection between the indoors and the deck, which serves as an outdoor living room with a built-in bench, planter box and a retractable awning for shade.
“[The dwelling] boasts the features of a much more substantial home and demonstrates that comfortable and private family living can be achieved in unexpected places,” the architects said in a project statement. “Materials were selected to both sit comfortably amongst the existing textures and quietly to allow the appreciation of space. Honest timeless materials such as recycled brick, blackbutt timber and plywood work in harmoniously and are both classic and contemporary.”
Dominated by white walls punctuated with timber surfaces and greenery throughout, the light-filled interior feels bright and spacious. Access to ample natural light and operable glazing helps reduce the energy demands of the home. Energy costs are further offset thanks to a photovoltaic system. Rainwater is collected to service the toilets.
Images by Emily Bartlett Photography via McManus Lew Architects