Part 1 – When the first home becomes the family home

This is part 1 of a 3 part blog series “When the first home becomes the family home”, in the next case study we discuss the ‘inner city apartment’.

Think you’ve outgrown your space but can’t imagine picking up and relocating, read on – there may be a solution for you yet.

The story we often hear goes something like this; you buy a small piece of real estate to get your foot in the door – a 2 bedroom unit, an apartment or perhaps a semi-detached house. 

You think, we’ll hold onto it for a few years, do a quick renovation, sell and then buy the long-term ‘’forever’’ house that you have always dreamt of. But 5 + years on, you’re still there and you don’t really want to move now because you love the area. 

Your neighbours are great, the local cafes finally getting good and the childcare centre around the corner took you 12 months to get in.

The problem is your home is now bursting at the seams, storage is woefully inadequate, the hallway is now a permanent dumping ground for bags, kids bikes & shoes. Sound familiar?

We wanted to share with you these real examples that are not a traditional family home but with some careful planning, intelligent design and forward thinking we believe they can be. The following 3 case studies are from existing and past clients who have found themselves in this or a similar predicament.

The Tiny Site, a block less than 150m2

The site: 117m2 (yes really)
The project: Semi-detached Victorian Terrace, alterations & first floor addition
The location: Inner city Melbourne, City of Stonnington

When this project first came into our office the renovation was for a young professional, the house was tiny, in disrepair, dark with almost no outdoor area. The brief was fairly typical; maximise floor area, increase amount of natural light, increase storage options, open plan living area to the rear facing courtyard, 2 bedrooms + study / flexi space, new second storey.

The complexity was not only fitting all this in and more (included an off-street car space – not kidding) in such a small space, but managing issues of limited access, shared wall + roof with the neighbour and a house that was basically in original condition – bluestone foundations and all. Good thing our client was trusting in us with his vision as much as he was brave.

The key space spacing strategies in this project included;

  • efficiently designed built in cabinetry, wherever possible taking advantage of the 3.3m ceilings by including high level storage,
  • access to light whilst maintaining privacy via new expansive glazing towards the courtyard, carefully positioned picture windows with views reaching out toward the city (increasing the perception of space) + large custom skylights – illuminating otherwise dark internal spaces.
  • Restrained and clean interior materials and finishes connecting the house visually and maintaining an uncluttered aesthetic throughout.

Fast forward 3 years and our wonderful client, fiancé and now new baby are living in the house, and whilst not the initially intended occupants we are happy to say the space is serving them well…for now.

We love these tiny sites because they have so much hidden potential and literally every millimetre counts so the design has to be clever with no wasted or single use spaces and must consider flexibility for the future.


Read Part 2 in this Series “When the first home becomes the family home”

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