Dark timber and white kitchen renovation

Crown jewel

This elaborately renovated heritage house in Melbourne offers a cohesive mix of old and new features, but not without a unique set of challenges for the builders.

Author

Sarah O’Donovan

Not many homes can at once embody both past and present, but it’s this effortless yin-yang of heritage and innovation that makes Curved Residence – a renovation and addition project – so impressive.

Whether it’s old or new, intricate and smooth, or bright and subdued, every feature of this project is balanced with a contrasting counterpart, resulting in an ever-present sense of harmony throughout.

Moody black oak floorboards on the ground level’s kitchen and living areas are promptly offset with ceiling-height windows, wide walkways, and glass or bi-fold doors. Drawing the eye up, these floor-to-ceiling openings brighten and open up the space, giving it an airy feel in spite of the dark hues below.

Beyond the tall archways and into the outdoor entertaining area is a paved courtyard and manicured lawn.

Overhead, aged timber trusses offer a glimpse of the original 1800s features.

You wouldn’t know it from standing here, but just around the corner is perhaps the pièce de résistance: a convertible indoor-outdoor lounge room and private courtyard with geometrically-patterned marble flooring.

Naturally lit with skylights and finished with cool stone floors, the space feels distinctly outdoors – except for the couch and flat screen television.

Patterned marble flooring outdoor living
The convertible indoor-outdoor lounge room and private courtyard features geometrically-patterned marble flooring
Alfresco
The outdoor entertaining area flows onto a paved courtyard and manicured lawn

Naturally lit with skylights and finished with cool stone floors, the space feels distinctly outdoors – except for the couch and flat screen television.

For Visioneer director James Gooley, this courtyard was both the crown and the jewel – that is to say, he couldn’t choose just one favourite feature.

‘I really liked the geometric pattern of the stone flooring. And the curved facade above it,’ he says.

But no success is without its difficulties, and James says creating curved, convex walls is no exception: ‘they certainly presented a challenge. They were produced with curved timber bottom plates and top plates, infilled with timber stud walls.

‘If the curve wasn’t too tight we’d clad it with plasterboard, but if the curve was tight – which it was for the majority of them – we used a product called MULTIPANEL which is a composite material that’s completely inert and can curve to bends.’

Making waves in the hallways and rooms upstairs was one thing, but rendering over them outside was something James had never done before. No two curves are alike because each one required a unique combination of different products and techniques.

‘Rather than re-inventing the wheel, we were inventing it’

Curved facade
‘We knew this project was going to be incredibly difficult and highly bespoke’
Curved Residence living room at night
Naturally lit with skylights and finished with cool stone floors, the space feels distinctly outdoors

‘At the front of the home, the lower curve is actually shotcrete sprayed onsite to give it structure, and the s-curve above it was all MULTIPANEL,’ James says. ‘We quickly learnt that there are all [these] different products out there in the market and they’re worth exploring.’

Dealing with a heritage-listed property is typically a process rife with red tape and logistical set-backs, and in addition to this, the client was specific about ensuring the older part of the home remained aged in appearance. But James says he and his team were up to the challenge: ‘we knew this project was going to be incredibly difficult and highly bespoke’.

For example, the fireplace was removed but the heritage requirements meant the chimney above it had to be kept in the roofline.

‘We had to replicate the existing chimney so we had to pull it down, survey it closely, and rebuild it with the exact look but in a lightweight nature,’ he says. ‘It was tough and it was something we’d never done before. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, we were inventing it.’

Dark oak timber flooring dining and kitchen
Moody black oak floorboards are offset with ceiling-height windows
Mosaic shower
Recycled mosaic tiles

James is no stranger to pioneering builds, having started working with Visioneer eight years ago.

‘I made a leap of faith and came across from a Tier 1 commercial builder to a small construction company to work with four people out of an office in Hawthorn,’ he says. ‘Since then, we’ve grown the business to now have 18 in the office and 42 staff altogether.’

He estimates the business, which he now co-owns, works on roughly 14-18 projects at a time, mostly building high-end houses and apartments in Melbourne.

Recognising the credibility that comes with industry awards of excellence, Visioneer enters its most impressive projects into HIA’s Victorian Housing Awards each year, with 2017 seeing Curved Residence become a HIA–CSR Victorian Renovation/Addition of the Year finalist. Visioneer has also won the prestigious HIA–CSR Victorian Home of the Year in 2012, 2016 and 2018.

The immense complexities of this design and construction process came together neatly to deliver what is an enchanting and fluid family home. With reverence for the existing period structure and a glimpse into the future of home building, Curved Residence tells a tale of history and innovation – and how they can live happily ever after.

Curved Residence

Curved Residence at a glance

Builder: Visioneer

Designer: Susi Leeton Architects

Location: Melbourne

Materials:

  • Cabinets: American Oak Timber Veneer, Bronze Paneling, Corian, Walnut Timber, Carrara Marble
  • Door hardware: Bellevue Olivari range
  • Paint: Porters
  • Render: Unitex Tanami
  • Carpet: Prestige, Natural Velvet in Appaloosa
  • Tiles: Byzantine Design’s Boheme White Glass and Slate mosaic, Boheme Nite Glass and Slate mosaic, and Carrara Herringbone Honed; Bamstone’s Australian Bluestone Honed; Signorino’s Carrara Honed, Bardiglio Honed and Grigio Carnico honed; Corsi & Nicolai’s Rosa Aurora and Verde Patrizia
  • Timber flooring: Porter’s Paints 189mmx20mm Japan Black

Related Articles

Old house new views

This build starts with a cosy cottage and adds glass walls and sea views with a contemporary addition up top.

Wall of wonder

Uncompromising in both vision and execution, this award-winning sustainable home is a celebration of modern architecture and innovative construction techniques.

Comfort from the cold

The thick walls of this Lucaston rammed-earth house keep out the crisp winds and chills of the Huon Valley.

Peek into the past

An intensive restoration of a historical cliffside cottage showcases and celebrates the beauty inherent in ancient and new construction techniques.

Join more than 120,000 like-minded subscribers