A sharp, white house near the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River blends majestic old decor and minimalist new elements in a design by architecture studio Inarc
Refinement is the order of the day in this elegantly reappointed 1870s Victorian house, thanks to a comprehensive overhaul and restoration by the Melbourne studio Inarc. Set in Studley Park, a long-established suburb near to the city’s twisting Yarra River, the house sits amongst what were once market gardens and small farms established to feed the city in its early years. Many of the large houses and plots that made up this streetscape were subsequently subdivided, demolished and redeveloped, but this particular house, Wyoming, clung on to its corner site, withstanding any radical change.
The owners have spent 13 years here and knew the site and their requirement inside out. Their brief to Inarc was to extend the house, expand the interior spaces and restore and retain the elements of the house, inside and out, that reference the long history of the area. Change has already brought eclecticism, and the Studley Park of the 21st century is a melange of original Victorian houses and modern structures in every shape and style.
The key components of the surviving house were the principle function rooms, with high ceilings, meticulous panelling and cornice details, and elaborate decorations. The substantial new addition replaces an earlier garage block and includes a utility area, self-contained apartment and space for three cars on the lower ground floor, above which sits an impressive master suite and kitchen and dining room.
The original structure, to the west of the site, is restored and transformed into an open plan area with three sitting rooms and a grand dining room, making the most of the tall windows and beautiful detailing. The entrance, marked by a new pavilion, creates a formal route from the main street. Planting includes Canary Island date palms, a particular favourite in the Victorian era, alongside other tropical favourites.
Old and new are united by a glazed link, with the three-storey new structure making the most of the site’s slope. Two further bedrooms are located on the top floor of the new addition, set back to create a stepped façade. White walls with blade-like angled steel details give the addition a striking contemporary look, with the steel carried through into the original structure in the form of a slender verandah on the north façade, shading the junction between house and garden. The interiors are minimalist, with luxurious materials like marble used in the kitchen, stone floors throughout and meticulous detailing like the bespoke steel handrails. These make a stark contrast with the exquisitely restored mouldings, creating a space that tells its story of evolution over time.