Elphin House is a new addition to an established back garden in the leafy suburb of Ivanhoe. Julie Firkin Architects were engaged to design a cosy and homely abode with emphasis on taking advantage of the views and sun while preserving the original parts of the house and maintaining the amenity of the northeast studio. From the streetscape, the addition did not compete visually with the original house rather it looked subtle but honed, bringing a sense of clarity, space, and ease to the home as a whole. Shall we go inside?
“Ivanhoe is known for its period homes on large blocks and its green, hilly and picturesque landscape. Its character is recognised by the local council which stipulates that significant trees must be preserved and all roofs must be tiled. This project involved reworking a prime example of an Ivanhoe home which has a relatively complex pattern of use. The original Edwardian house had been the family home for several generations. A more recent studio in the northeast corner of the site housed a dressmaking workshop and served as overflow accommodation for guests. The studio required separate access for customers from the street.” – Julie Firkin Architects
Due to the original house not following the natural slope of the site, the spaces are arranged in split levels so that the living area and kitchen drop down closer to the garden level. The north-facing living area was elevated from the garden and can be accessed via a staircase. The bedroom upstairs is not elevated and does not compete with the original facade as it’s virtually invisible on the street. The outdoor deck is tapered to create space for outdoor dining immediately next to the kitchen.
Inside, the living room, with its sloped, double-height ceiling, draws the viewer’s gaze up to the finely detailed screen and greenery beyond. The dappled light formed by the screen creates a unique flow of light over the interior which changes with the time of day and season. The large sliding door panels, when drawn back, gives the kitchen an indoor-outdoor feel. Overall, the interiors are understated, light, and functional.
“The resulting insertion is housed within a deliberately simple geometric form with the intention of bringing a sense of clarity, space, and ease to the home as a whole. Although the form of the extension looks simple, it has been carefully honed. The spaces are arranged in split levels so that the living area and kitchen drop down closer to the garden level. The upper-level bedroom is not so elevated as to be able to be seen from the street, so it does not compete with the original street façade. The outdoor deck is tapered to create space for outdoor dining immediately next to the kitchen. Broad steps, suitable for lounging on, face toward the best garden views. When seen from the back garden the new extension with its double-height living space and intricately patterned screen are impressive.” – Julie Firkin Architects
The existing house is much loved and the original character of the front rooms had been preserved. The design approach was to tap into many of the characteristics of the existing home and area, allowing it to live beyond its generation with an added flair.