The client; a Swiss (French-speaking) ex-chef, ex-toy museum owner, collector of all things amazing and bizarre, turned artist, now heavily inspired by Mexican colour, pattern and imagery.
The existing house was a dark, somewhat drab mud-brick owner-built number from the late 1970s, chock-a-block full of an extensive collection of objects, toys, and artworks. The house sits in an established garden just outside the township of Malmsbury. The site is zoned a ‘Rural Living Zone’, and is subject to a number of overlays: Environmental Significance Overlay, Erosion Management Overlay, and a Heritage Overlay. The site is also within a bushfire prone area.
The owner and his partner found the whole place too dark, they needed more light to be happy in the space. They’d also wanted more wall space and display cabinets for his collection.
A small (10m2) glazed sunroom extension was added to provide a space to sit and read, or eat breakfast – inside the comfort of the home – but nestled within the well-established landscaped area to the north of the existing house, providing a space for the owner to appreciate the garden in the warmth of the sun.
The modern glass extension was designed to draw more light deeper into the living areas, but also to visually extend the living space of the house out into the landscape. A brick floor within the sunroom internally folds up into a seated plinth edge which slips through full height glazing to become a strong geometric plinth in the garden. The idea over time is to have pots and plants strewn across this geometric form, creating a ‘fuzzy’ edge between the building and the landscape.
The interior of the house was gutted of the kitchen, bathroom and the two stairs. The shell of the existing structure (mudbrick, traditional brick, timber and other linings) were all painted white to lighten and brighten the whole volume of space. Within this volume were introduced a new Kitchen with timber veneer fronts, overhead cupboards, and stainless steel bench tops, robust enough to deal with the punishment of an ex-chef. A black steel Spiral stair replaced the two existing timber stairs which ate up valuable floor and wall space. A bridge was also introduced to link the two lofts which were left ‘as-is’ other than a lick of paint and new carpet.
In the lounge area, a large monolithic joinery unit was placed behind the existing fireplace, where the second stair once stood, this doubles as a Robe into the second Bedroom. The joinery holds the TV, stereo, books, and wood storage, but also acts as a sort of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ displaying some of the owners most prized pieces; A 17th century doll, a number of candelabras, a clock, an underwater diver, and a couple of toy cars.
An elaborate antique Murano glass chandelier was suspended over the existing large timber dining table, and a display cabinet adjoins the dining area in the space of the second original stair.
The Bathroom was rejuvenated with crisp white tiles, a heated towel rail, and high-end fixtures and fittings. A custom-designed mosaic fills one wall, incorporating mexican-like colours in the figure of a large pixelated octopus – a celebratory moment of the owner’s previous passion as a seafood chef. The ‘underwater’ theme is furthered through three glass pendant lights that cluster in the corner looking vaguely ‘octopussy’…