In search of a new home renovation project and more space, architect Lisa Breeze and her husband bought a period home in Melbourne’s Northcote in 2019. 

The double-fronted Victorian cottage was located on a small site in a dense street, with unremarkable interiors and a poorly built extension. ‘It was liveable, but not great,’ says Lisa. 

The architect sought to neaten up the period facade, retain the original rooms at the front, and replace the existing extension. They brought in builders Never Stop Group who were up for the challenge.

While Lisa’s husband was keen to renovate, he was generally happy for Lisa to guide the project, which was both a blessing and a curse! ‘My husband was enthusiastic about the whole endeavour but impartial to the details, leaving things open for me to test and explore design ideas,’ Lisa explains. ‘The downside to this was that there was no real feedback, the upside is that the process could unfold quite a bit faster than usual!’

As the home is built to the boundary on both sides, it essentially functions like a terrace. ‘This makes access to light, air, and circulation, plus simply fitting everything in, quite tricky,’ says Lisa. To overcome this, in the new extension she created a more open living area; converted the previous meals area into a third bedroom; and turned the previous living space into a bathroom, powder room and laundry. Meanwhile, at the front of the house, all rooms under the old roof were retained, to maintain the integrity of the old cottage.

The formerly paved ‘shambolic’ outdoor space was also completely overhauled to feature informal paving and fresh landscaping by Amanda Oliver Gardens

Inside, the home feels surprisingly bright and contemporary, thanks to a fresh new materials palette including timber floors, terrazzo and ceramic tiles, and a stainless steel kitchen bench (‘It’s indestructible!’ says Lisa) and various shades of blue. ‘The colours are soft and calming throughout: moody in the old part of the home and bright with the natural light in the extension,’ Lisa says.

Everything now fits together in the compact space, creating a relaxed, cosy, and light-filled home for two adults, a baby, and their pets. 

‘We can both work at home comfortably at the same time — a feature that was designed into the home before knowing that would become a necessity for how we live and work now’ Lisa explains.

‘The baby has her own space, and as you can see, the pets think it’s pretty great too!’