Texture & light

Issue 27 Words: Jacinta Cleary Photography: Erika Lauthier
Thornbury, Victoria
  • The garden, deck and pergola spaces have been designed as a series of external living spaces that are visually and physically connected with the home’s interior living spaces.
  • The kitchen cost just $6000 to update, excluding appliances, with a kit fit-out. Classic original cabinets were reused.
  • The retrofitted pantry is a homely side entrance room to this Thornbury home, with a view through louvre windows into the art and living rooms and the garden beyond.
  • Clerestory windows bring light into the south-facing addition.
  • The architects designed internal vistas such as this internal louvre window, which looks into the living room and out to the garden.

When you walk in the back door of this house in Melbourne’s north you’re faced with enough fresh produce and condiments to encourage you to head straight into the kitchen and cook.

The home’s rear entry has been moved to the pantry, just one of the quirks and charms of this updated 1920s home with a new south-facing extension. “It’s nice to enter and see the food, and walk past the fridge with the kids’ drawings, right into the heart of the building. It’s quite a sensual entry to the house in a way,” says architect Giles Lawson.

Faced with a south-facing rear and a smallish block, the owners enlisted architecture firm The Rexroth Mannasmann Collective to extend their poorly orientated home in a truly sustainable way. They wanted to preserve as much of the original home as possible, including their much loved kitchen and pantry. The extension needed to be compact and not encroach on the garden, and be open plan but with some discrete spaces. It also needed to be subtle, says Giles. “They didn’t want a big bank of windows looking out to the garden.”

The kitchen had long been cut off from the garden by a classic lean-to at the back of the house. Giles and his colleague Kirsty Fletcher identified a risk that the old, enclosed kitchen might once again be disconnected from the new open-plan living spaces and the outdoors. “We just had to think a little harder,” says Kirsty.

Keeping the kitchen was a sage economic decision, costing just $6000 to update, excluding appliances, with a kit fit-out and the classic original cabinets reused. Retaining the kitchen also inspired the architects to create a long internal vista from the kitchen to the pergola through the updated pantry, the new kids’ art room and the living room. The view is made more dynamic by louvres between the rooms that draw a cooling southerly breeze deep inside the home, and have a rainbow-like effect on light.

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Cover of Issue 27
You can read more about Texture & light in Issue 27 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Giles Lawson, Kirsty Fletcher & Brenton Weisert, Rexroth Mannasmann Collective


Chris O’Kane, Artezen Construction

Project type


Project location

Thornbury, VIC


$270,000 (excl. prof. fees)


Existing house 97 sam, addition 72 sqm, outdoor entertaining 22 sqm, land 392 sqm

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