Northcote Cottage Weather House Transformation

Upon a compact Northcote block in Melbourne’s inner city, Weather House merges traditional and modern designs to make a considered and flexible home.

Originally constructed in the early 1900s, the renovations completed on the Victorian house by Mihaly Slocombe Architects to transform the previously tired cottage.

“Our clients, Claire and Brent, cherished the character, intimacy, and location of their century-old worker’s cottage, but accommodating three children and the logistics of a night-shift working schedule required more considered space and flexibility in their home,” says Erica Slocombe, Principal Architect at Mihaly Slocombe Architects.

“Claire and Brent are camping enthusiasts, and in response, their house is a love letter to the outdoors: a rich, durable environment infused with the grounded ambience of being in nature.”

Bordered by a narrow street to the front and a narrower laneway behind, the house sits amid a row of charming cottages. Mihaly Slocombe Architects honoured the homes’ history and context by preserving the original frontage and undertaking a sensitive rear extension. From the street, the dark metal-clad extension echoes the cottage’s roofline, becoming a subtle shadow of the original house in both form and tone.

“A key element of the brief for Weather House was the use of tactile, durable materials imbued with personality. The interior palette champions blackbutt timber and concrete, a timeless and hard-wearing foundation to be adorned with moments of interest.,” says Erica.

“The brick selection was one of the most important elements of the project. When looking for the perfect brick we were after one that was a light colour and tonally consistent en masse, to allow the brick patterning we had in mind to be the leading feature. We were also keen to select Australian-made materials, so the Adbri Masonry brick range was a particularly appealing choice.”

Complementing the neutrality of the concrete brick walls is a unique brick pattern that ascends toward the ceiling in intriguing bands, naturally drawing the eye upward.

The ground-floor bathroom features a removable slatted timber shower base that conceals a sunken bath. Terrazzo details within the polished concrete floors and bathroom tiles bring life to the smooth surfaces, which are balanced by the warmth of the blackbutt ceilings and joinery.

The lavish windows allow natural light to pour into the lounge, dining room and kitchen, which are all anchored around a versatile outdoor living area. Embedded into the rear wall of the house is a double-sided fireplace, bringing ambience and heating to the lounge and inspiring a campfire atmosphere in the courtyard.

In designing a contemporary and striking extension at the rear of this Victorian home, two distinctive spaces were created that simultaneously flow together but also highlight their unique features. From the tactile and textured finishes of the interior to the surrounding Australian native garden that you just want to touch, the house encapsulates the feeling of being part of the outdoors.