Our clients had purchased a speculative three level town house built in the early nineties. They had recently sold their business in the country and were looking to settle in Melbourne. They would use the town house for weekend stays in the big smoke and saw the work we were doing elsewhere in East Melbourne. They approached us to look at their house with the view of fitting it out ready for their permanent move to Melbourne
The original house was poorly designed with a succession of small rooms, narrow corridors and stairways. We basically gutted the whole interior and opened the ground floor up into one space, placing the kitchen at the front, street end of the house and the living areas at the rear with a glazed wall onto the courtyard garden
New windows were inserted into the original external walls and Vental blinds installed over the top two levels to inhibit heat gain from the morning sun. The courtyard was repaved and long reflecting pool built to provide interest and focal axis
year completed 2002
gross floor area 400m2
Revamping a tired East Melbourne town house for a couple of empty nesters meant bringing down the ground floor walls and relocating the kitchen from its hiding place at the rear and the front of the house prominence.
The move freed up space at the back, providing an uninterrupted view into the east facing courtyard.
Tying the zones of the living and dining complex together came through the polished bluestone floor, American walnut joinery and a spray paint finish to the cupboards to match the wall and ceiling colour.
The open planning and transparency - frameless glass separates dining and living areas - transformed the formerly dark maze of rooms into a "vibrant sequence of entertainment platforms", says architect Reno Rizzo.
The compact but conspicuous kitchen was kept clutter-free by integrating the dishwasher and sinks into a stainless steel bench top on one side of the open-ended space, and ovens, cook-tops and exhausts into the opposing side.
Glass doors on the cupboards carried through the theme of opacity and transparency. A stone-topped island bench cuts through the kitchen, intersecting with a block of floor to ceiling walnut-clad cupboards which serve as storage space and demarcate the kitchen from the dining zone.
On the first floor, the bathroom was left in its original position, but in keeping with the other spaces, turned from an introspective en-suite, into a see-through "lightbox". One window took in the activity of the street below, the other an internal void hanging over the stairs. On the stair side, a blind, sandwiched between two glazed panels, controls natural light and privacy.
The shower screen is clear glass, so as not to impede the views into the stair void. In keeping with the material palette of the ground floor living areas, but-joined slabs of honed bluestone are used on the floor.