A heritage home in Melbourne is redesigned for modern family living

This stunningly renovated period abode in Melbourne is a celebration of family, love and the enduring warmth of timber.
Alex Reinders

If the dramatically reimagined heritage home of Sally and Jason appears to tick every box for the perfect family pad, it’s no illusion. But that may well be because the renovation was a family affair in the truest sense – a labour of love that saw Sally’s builder father, Colin, venture out of retirement to work alongside his daughter and son-in-law on the century-old residence.

“It’s been so special having my dad as the builder – and he’s still here doing things!” says Sally, with a laugh. “I’m an only child and I was brought up with the attitude that ‘girls can do anything boys can do’. So, we’re all currently in the middle of laying tessellated tiles on the front verandah, after spending last year working on the garden together.”

A dramatic 3.3-metre ceiling defines the dining zone, which is anchored by a timber table with Bentwood side chairs – all from Mark Tuckey – and lit by the ‘T-Mini Pulley’ pendant from Artefact Industries. A Marmoset Found ‘Pleat’ vase in Ink Blue from Bungalow Trading Co brings colour to the table.

The beautiful result of that togetherness speaks for itself in this welcoming abode. “The home would not be even a shadow of what it is now without my father,” she continues. “He’s in his 70s, and yet he built the entire frame for the extension with just one other guy.”

On the adjacent wall, a Sidney Teodoruk and Neil Tomkins collaborative original artwork ‘Night Walk’ provides a glorious burst of colour. Layered with Burel cushions and a throw sourced from Figgoscope Curates, the Jardan navy ‘Milo’ sofa spells relaxation, which Max and Sunday indulge in on a rug from The Rug Collection. “This is such a cosy space for all of us,” says Sally.

That’s not to say the hands-on family didn’t encounter a few minor hiccups along the renovation way. “There were times when we were in the throes of it that we each thought, ‘Oh my God! What have we done?’,” says Sally with a smile. “But we came out the other side really well and we’re all closer than ever.”

In the home’s core living space, laid-back luxury is the name of the game. During the chillier months, the family love to hunker down in front of the fireplace. “One of my dad’s steel-welder mates made the wood-box,” says Sally. “It contains several weeks’ worth of wood for the fireplace.”

In the heart of the home, a sea of attractive messmate cabinetry reigns supreme in the breathtaking kitchen. The timber barstools were found at Ethnicraft, while the matt black Zip HydroTap is as stylish as it is multi-functional.

After buying the double-fronted red-brick house in 2014, when their now seven-year-old son Max was one, Sally and Jason lived in the gracious home as it was for a year. “The house was in good condition,” recalls Sally. “The front rooms had been given a lick of paint over the years, but were still true to their era. We walked in and said, ‘This is the house!’ We could see that it had so much potential.”

Juxtaposed against pale grey Dekton Sirocco benchtops, the upper splashback in Dekton Sirius makes a striking statement. “We wanted to really ‘hero’ the timber, incorporating a substantial amount of it to provide a warm, homely space and to contrast with the concrete floor,” says interior designer Lauren O’Brien of Austin Design Associates.

Yet while the couple loved the home’s soaring ceilings, wide hallway and graceful period details, Sally and Jason were a little less enamoured by the “’80s tack-on” at the rear. “It had a green and apricot laminate kitchen,” says Sally, “one that was functional, but which seemed disconnected to the living areas and therefore wasn’t really conducive to modern family living.”

“I love this open study, which is accessible from the kitchen,” says Sally.

Enlisting the architectural drafting services of West Valentine Design, Sally and Jason engaged Melbourne interior design practice Austin Design Associates to oversee the home’s stunning new fixtures and fittings. “Austin Design were such an amazing help,” says Sally. “They took on board our ideas and gave us the confidence to be brave and just go for it. It was a wonderful collaboration.”

Floor-to-ceiling powder-coated aluminium-framed glass doors slide open to the inviting alfresco deck and garden, where a new pool beckons.

The family-friendly home now incorporates a contemporary extension at the rear, featuring the open-plan living space. “We lived in the home throughout the renovation,” says Sally. “I look back and don’t quite know how we did it and stayed sane!” “The western side of our house borders three of the neighbours’ back gardens, so we have the sun out here all day long,” says Sally.

Betty keeps a careful watch from the side of the house that features Bluestone pavers.

Working carefully with the best of the original heritage structure, this is now a home that says much about the family’s way of life, style and loves. “We do feel very blessed to be living here,” says Sally, before adding: “It’s a house that will always have a big attachment to our heart because of my father’s involvement.”

It’s hard to imagine that what is now an inviting guest bedroom was the family’s temporary kitchen during the renovation works. “My dad chopped up the old green kitchen to fit into this room and he did an amazing job,” says Sally. On the wall, is a colourful limited edition print by Ali McNabney-Stevens – “I love her work,” says Sally. The bed is dressed in linen found at Sally’s favourite Melbourne store, Bungalow Trading Co. She also found the Society Of Wanderers ‘Winifred Floral’ quilt, in the couple’s bedroom, there as well.

As ideas went to paper and then came to life, Sally never doubted what the hero material would be. And so it was that tactile timber came to be showcased to dramatic effect, inside and out. “Because I’ve always been surrounded by it, I have a real appreciation for it and so does Jason,” says Sally. “Timber has such a lovely warmth to it and we find it makes a house feel so cosy.”

In Sally and Jason’s bedroom, the custom ‘Lincoln’ bed frame by Forty Winks – complete with upholstered bedhead, floating bedside tables and attached backing panel – rightfully claims centrestage. The floating bedside tables and attached backing panel are sold separately.

A curvaceous ‘I Catini Cielo’ washbasin cabinet from Design Precinct in the powder room.

Crisp and clean, Sally and Jason’s ensuite has understated style, thanks to elements including a Carrara marble vanity top from CDK Stone, paired with gleaming ‘Igloo’ Moroccan mosaic tiles from Tiles Of Ezra and Roca Inspira ‘Round Vessel’ basins. ‘Earth’ wall lights from Anchor Ceramics light up the space, and a Kobn ‘Crema’ towel from Bungalow Trading Co injects texture. >

Nestled within a row of heritage-listed homes in Melbourne’ s bayside suburbs, the renovated circa 1918 abode is enjoying a new life. A successful marriage of old and new, the home is also a lesson in the power of contrast, with highlights of black and white acting as a foil to the dramatic use of timber throughout.

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