The existing double-fronted cottage, while dilapidated, was ideally situated with a north-facing backyard and rear lane access. Works commenced with a fairly intensive restoration process. ‘We stripped it back to its frame, pulled the roof off, ripped all the plaster out,’ Scott says. ‘We rebuilt the sub-floor, restumped the house, but maintained the period elements out the front.’
While Scott says ‘there are always challenges with Victorian [homes]’, the most demanding aspect of this particular project was interpreting the architect’s intention. Dome Building Projects work exclusively on architect-designed homes across Melbourne’s blue-chip suburbs, enjoying plenty of repeat business thanks to their exacting approach and high-level craftsmanship, and Scott says the team have become familiar with the ‘difficult detail’ that’s a signature of Fiona’s designs. ‘When we do her work, sometimes it feels like we’ve got a piece of abstract art she’s trying to translate into a home, and we’ve got to make it waterproof and functional, so it’s always a challenge.’
The two personalities of Split House – old-world charm versus contemporary flair – are beautifully resolved through the use of a consistent visual narrative: the bold, triangular geometry of the external roofline is carried through to the interior raked ceilings and replayed again and again, in windows, walls and joinery. Decorative finishes are secondary; the razor-sharp architecture, meticulously rendered by the Dome team, comprises the aesthetic focus of the home, inside and out.
‘Everywhere you look there are details that required serious workmanship to pull off,’ Scott says. From achieving a flawless finish at each junction of the stepped, multi-angled ceilings and walls; painstakingly pattern-matching the timber veneers in the joinery; to ensuring no cuts in the bathroom tilework, every element plays out to precision. ‘All the angles, all the sharp edges, it’s all very unforgiving. There are no joinery fillers or soft surfaces, no architraves…nowhere to hide.’