Reworked for a professional man scaling down from a large house nearby, it was far from remarkable. “The house was fairly dark and the rooms felt quite pokey and awkward to manoeuvre. And of course, there’s the issue with its predominant orientation to the south,” says architect Reno Rizzo, who worked closely with his life and business partner, architect and co-director, Jenny Rizzo. “Our client was also looking for a place that had space for his vintage car and a separate home office,” he adds.
Having a front and a rear lane to access the property was a drawcard, as well as the ability to create a unique home that would provide a backdrop for his art collection; read sufficient wall space and the ability to stand back and admire these works. So, the original staircase was relocated and the rooms on the ground floor opened up to the rear courtyard. And instead of small Victorian windows, as seen in the original part of the home, the new wing and detached office feature generous floor-to-ceiling steel and glass windows and complementary doors to the garden, designed by Amanda Oliver. Other insertions to increase the natural light, both from the north and the south, include a lantern-style pop-up ceiling. “Southern light is often overlooked. It’s a much more even and controlled quality of light, ideal for both looking at paintings, as well as protecting them from the glare,” says Rizzo.
Inarc Architects retained the original couple of rooms at the front of the house, inserting a guest powder room into one of these spaces. However, past the living area, the footprint is entirely new with the new dining area and galley-style kitchen that leads into the laundry. Given the renovation was for a single man, a new narrow kitchen with two full-length benches on either side was sufficient. Inarc Architects also included a long slot-style window above the southern bench to take advantage of the garden.
One of the ways Inarc Architects increased the sense of space, particularly in a visual sense, was to include a steel and glass door to the garage. This allows for increased sightlines, and importantly, allow the owner can admire his vintage car while being in the kitchen, dining area or in the adjacent laundry. And mindful of the transition between the house and the office/garage, a canopy between the two structures allows for protection from the weather (a barbeque fits neatly into this space). “The office was an important part of the brief, a place that would act as a retreat/office when not having to go to his office nearby,” says Rizzo.
While the ground floor was extended to the rear boundary, the first floor of the house remains largely unchanged. There’s a main bedroom and ensuite, together with an adjacent guest bedroom (the powder room downstairs also functions as a second bathroom).
Where before the house was dark and uninspiring, it’s now a light-filled abode. With pristine white walls in every room, there’s clarity to each painting on display. “It’s a relatively modest house, quite diminutive in scale, but it works for our client, who is passionate about his art and, of course, his vintage car,” adds Rizzo.