Brighton Homestead by Robson Rak

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    Enter a unique homestead revival by Robson Rak, who’ve injected the home’s scale and stature into a modern extension, to create an enviable home to grow up in.

    It may be difficult to envisage a Victorian-era home that pays tribute to its stately sophistication, while being all about the kids. Known for their portfolio of heritage alterations and additions, Melbourne design studio Robson Rak were asked to fulfil this brief for a family of six, with four young, energetic boys. 

    By fusing opposing ideas; separation and coming together, or the most telling of all, stitching the 21st-century extension onto a grandiose homestead, Robson Rak have achieved internal harmony. The Brighton Homestead reveals Robson Rak’s aesthetic integrity, with all of their surprising elements along the way – to the benefit of both parents and children alike. 

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    The dining area features the Latus Table and Neva Chairs by Artisan, from Duck’s Nest, under the Wireflow Lineal lights by Vibia.

    Robson Rak were given the rare opportunity to rework an ornate Brighton homestead for modern family living. From the outset, the design team knew they were working with a home larger than most. Laid out across three levels, the ground level flows out onto a pool area, tennis court and manicured gardens. While the design was to pay tribute to the existing home, it needed to bring its robust and hard-working qualities to the fore, to cater for bustling family life and to be well-equipped for entertaining en mass. 

    The first step was to remove a 1970s extension. With this came a glass-encased new extension, that takes the scale and space of the old and transpires it into a new form. Robson Rak focused on future living that blurs the line between each zone, creating even flow through the dining room, kitchen and living space. Custom joinery in the kitchen and living area, made from dark veneer and textured marble, complement the original foundations. 

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    The extension follows the existing roofline of the homestead. The steel framing that wraps the glazing echoes the black steel frame doors in the ornate entrance hallway and formal dining room. This sitting space features the Utrecht Armchairs by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld for Cassina.

    In reworking the old, ventilation was key, through the high ceilings, generous eaves, but also through the introduction of sliding doors and openable windows. For the Melbourne winter, Robson Rak also ensured hydronic heating throughout. 

    Robson Rak divided the private areas of the home into a parent’s zone and a children’s zone. Understandably, the parent’s retreat lies within the heritage part of the home, organised within the grand scale and proportion of the existing spaces. Robson Rak highlighted the original detailing, only introducing subtle materials and finishes unoffensive to the Victorian fabric. The parent’s zone promotes peace and quiet through the ensuite, where an expansive gridded bathroom window brings gentle light and greenery within. 

    It’s not every day we see a home where the children have their own indoor playground. But for the Brighton Homestead, the kids’ experience was paramount. Robson Rak saw the children’s zone exactly through the lens of a child, where their creativity extends to the dwarf doors opening between bedroom walls, and a secret first-floor trap door that the children climb through to access a netted play area. This is the kind of home children dream about. 

    As with every Robson Rak project, trend items were purposely avoided in each space. Robson Rak’s favourite pieces – the Utrecht Armchairs by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld for Cassina and the Bend sofa by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia – make their rightful appearance, among other iconic pieces such as the Flamingo Pendants by Antoni Arola for Vibia and Gubi Beetle Chairs by Gamfratesi. Pieces of art are a gentle addition to each space, including works by Greg Wood and Robert Malherbe. 

    Robson Rak have made a child-focused family home appear as refined as its Victorian bones. By steering clear of imitation the extension is entirely respectful of the homestead it lies within, but brings with it complete contrast through simplicity and functionality, and the consideration of top-tier materials. 

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    The parent’s retreat features the Softwall Bed by Piero Lissoni for Living Divani and Moon Bedside Table by Mist-o for Living Divani.

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