Henry St, Hawthorn

Henry St, Hawthorn

Built in 1870, this double-fronted Victorian home was designed by prominent Melbourne architect George Raymond Johnson, who also designed many of Melbourne's landmark public buildings during the late 19th Century. It is believed to be one of the original dwellings on Henry Street, part of the area once known as 'the Village of Upper Hawthorn'.

A recent contemporary renovation has breathed new life into this Hawthorn-brick home. The design considered north orientation, clear spatial planning, connectivity with landscape, and a sensitive response to the fabric of the existing house.

The owners commissioned Matt Gibson Architecture to lead the design stage, in conjunction with landscape architect Ben Scott who designed the pool and garden. The build was skilfully completed by Justin O'Meara from Hawthorn Projects, with Greener Visions constructing the garden.

As you enter the property from the street, take a moment to appreciate the picture-perfect front garden. The lawn, pathway, steps and Hill's Fig boundary trees were designed to be symmetrical, mirroring the symmetry of the architecture. As a contrast, drought-tolerant mixed planting has been used in a layered approach, providing various colour and foliage textures.

The original rooms at the front of the house still showcase impressive Victorian features, including elaborate architraves, soaring 3.8 metre ceilings, ornate ceiling roses and original Baltic pine floorboards.

On your right is a generously proportioned living room, painted a tranquil shade of pale taupe. A mid-century Stouby Danish sofa takes pride of place under the Ellie Malin artwork. On your left is a highly functional study with extensive built-in stained plywood joinery and a Brooke Holm piece hung on the dark coloured wall.

A chic master bedroom suite features sheer linen curtains, a beautiful upholstered bedhead from Zuster and a handmade Scandinavian paper pendant light. An original Hans Wegner armchair continues the mid-century design theme that flows throughout the home, connecting the original section with the new extension.

Benchtops in both the ensuite and the family bathroom are a grey Neolith stone, which is visually softened by the Blackbutt timber cabinetry. This hardwood was also selected for the floorboards in the new extension.

A stunning steel shroud with bluestone base marks the transition from old to new. The rear extension is a low-slung pavilion-like wing, orientated to capture the bright northern light. The subtly sculpted dark form sits gently beneath the eave line of the existing building, and creates a backdrop to the vibrant garden beyond. Structural order is expressed via exposed rafters and a raw concrete chimney, reflecting mid century design qualities and principles.

A strategically placed southern courtyard garden draws further light into the home, and provides another opportunity for verdant planting. Here, Himalayan Birch trees are complemented by an underplanting of Mothershield Ferns, Arthropodium, Dwarf Japanese Mock Orange and ground cover of Native Violet.

The steel shroud feature is repeated in the window frame in the dining area, complementing the custom-made steel pivot windows. Carefully selected furniture includes a handcrafted American Oak table and Gubi beetle chairs. Eye-catching artwork adds a pop of colour, and lush indoor plants provide a visual connection to the garden. If you look hard enough, you'll spot an ingenious doggy door, cleverly concealed in built-in cabinetry in the dining room.

The architects selected Resene White Pointer as the perfect neutral paint colour for the home. This contrasts with the darker hue of Resene Ironsands for the kitchen cabinetry and the exposed timber rafters.

The informal living space is a winning combination of style and relaxation, with an inviting sofa and a gorgeous pink swivel chair, both from Jardan, and an ottoman from Space. A traditional handcrafted Moroccan Berber rug from Loom boosts the comfort factor in this cosy haven.

Enormous sliding glass doors open from both sides of the living room, creating seamless indoor/outdoor living and practical cross-ventilation.

External materials of choice include the charred timber cladding that wraps around the new wing, Moroccan limestone paving, and the Webforge aluminium grating that allows light into the garage while also providing a framework for the Mandevilla climber.

In the rear garden, a distinctive pool (built by Laguna Pools) takes centre stage. The above-ground pool alleviates the need for a more traditional pool fence, with the infinity edge pool wall and planter boxes complying as a pool fence.

Korean Velvet Grass (a no-mow grass) has been used around the stepping stone pavers, and contrasting Golden Barrel Cactus and Flapjacks were selected for their sculptural qualities. Native grasses soften the view to the pool moat and pool wall.

Other stunning features include an outdoor fireplace and BBQ bench made from in-situ concrete, eucalyptus poles above the BBQ, and a sumptuous blue outdoor sofa from Tait, made from waterproof velvet. A deciduous Virginia Creeper will eventually grow on the pergola, offering summer shade and additional light during the cooler months. A neighbouring Gleditsia tree provides the perfect visual backdrop for relaxed outdoor living.