A 1970s home is reimagined with a nod to Japanese architecture

22 February 2023

The challenge was tough: to take a classic 1970’s Australian home in a semi-rural area and renovate it to meet the desires of today’s homeowner.

Located in the Melbourne suburb of Research, Morelle House is a beautiful home on a large, tranquil block. The architect was charged with a bold vision to incorporate the convenience of location with the surrounding, quiet bush environment.

In response, soon-to-be a registered architect, Taelor Jordan, of For The Love of Design (FTLO Design) undertook her first solo development, and opted to bring the outside in. Staying true to the design aesthetics pioneered by local architects and designers, she incorporated large windows and blurred the lines between gardens and internal spaces.

Taelor, who is also part of the DevelopHer Collective, worked to provide a modern twist on the 1970s home, both internally and externally. After considerable renovation, the stunning results now speak for themselves. The home nods toward traditional Japanese architectural concepts of charred black classed log cabins and, since completion, the building feels as if it belongs to the space around it.

Upon commencement of the project, Taelor wanted to retain a flavour of the initial 1970s brick design while making it relevant and contemporaneous. Her vision was to blend the original lines with clean, stark lines to provide a now-and-then feel to the property. She opted for Axon Cladding by James Hardie to create two stunning black forms, being the new garage and existing home structure, with the entryway providing a singular moment of expression between.

Taelor says: “I love the linear look and clean and simple finished edges of the Axon Smooth Cladding. I wanted the aesthetic of the charred black cladding, but also being in a Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) region, it was critically important to select a product that was rated to be compliant against bushfire attacks.  Axon Cladding is fire resistant, and the type of construction on timber battens, and lightweight nature of the fibre cement product was perfect for our intended aesthetic.”

Despite such a dramatic facade and luxury feel, the home was designed with family living in mind, therefore relaxed and practical features were also an important consideration of the build. Warm tones, and natural lighting add to the aesthetic appeal of the indoor living space, while ample storage and the consideration of building materials were key to the practical success of the project.

In a striking contrast to the exterior, the interior is a warm white, supported by black and timber accents that offer a sleek, clean and understated look. Throughout the home, extra high ceilings provide instant visual impact while also giving the sense of space.

An open-plan kitchen and living area provides a sociable place for family and friends to commune, with an outdoor dining area that has become an extension of the indoor space. The furnishings and finishing touches use varying textures with similar colour tones to create rooms that are interesting and pack a punch.

Bringing the outside in, the window to the front of the house frames a beautiful sculptural gumtree. While aligning with the double height glazed doors to the rear that frames a large and beautiful tree top. An internal courtyard holds a vertical garden providing a memory of what was once there. The terrarium is a beautiful small garden that provides and indoor-outdoor blurring of the lines.

Taelor adds: “How a house makes you feel is important when designing a home. With this in mind, I chose materials that had a natural and understated finish; you’ll notice there is a mix of timbers, and concrete with a neutral palette. I wanted the home to have a feeling of space and a sense of calm.  It’s about fusing an organic, minimalist, classical style.”

The rear of the house is harmonised with the crisp black Axon Cladding and a pergola acts as an architectural series of portals, designed to be both minimal and frame the treetop views beyond.

The home is primarily designed around the view of the landscape, architectural moments, and detail. The final result is a home that exudes a sense of calm; it’s a space that feels tranquil and restful in a quiet neighbourhood, while looking simple yet elegant.

“I was really keen to show other homeowners that you can build a beautiful architecturally designed home for a reasonable budget,” says Taelor, “I’m really proud that I’ve achieved my goal.”

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