The Erskine House by Kennedy Nolan is a substantial Victorian family home which is redefined and unified through a multi-faceted approach.
Award-winning architects Kennedy Nolan approached the transformation of a gracious family home in Melbourne from a number of different angles. They saw their principal job as being to ‘make sense’ of the Victorian dwelling as a single entity, unifying the house visually by making a connection between disparate design expressions; high Victorian, high eighties and pragmatic spatial extensions that had been undertaken through the course of the home’s life.
“We started with a colour palette which defined a particular mood – cool and quiet, but with some intensity and playfulness…”
– Kennedy Nolan founding director Patrick Kennedy
The design team’s mandate involved wrangling the plan of the home’s well-proportioned rooms to discipline the various parts into zones; a parents’ zone, a children’s zone and social space for everyone to gather. Kennedy Nolan’s problem- solving approach came into play in the distinctive blue living room where the original room with its low ceiling and enclosed feeling made way for increased height by borrowing from unused parts from the first floor and opening it up to the outside with new windows.
This intensity is seen in the bold coral red used in the custom-designed shelving in the study, forming part of the complex tertiary colours used to reflect the dignity and scale of the beautiful Victorian proportions of the room. The response to the client’s brief also resulted in the distinctive Pierre Frey Shaman wallpaper in the front sitting room, which easily struck a chord with all parties, proposing itself as a mural, pictorial or even evocative of portraits which may hang on a wall.
There was also an inherent need to create cohesion between the home’s interior and exterior, where the green hues of a new garden are offset by an outdoor area in stone crazy paving and the large chimney of the substantial fireplace. A wall of floor to ceiling glass allows a tangible connection from inside to out with a mutual exchange of light and colour between them.
The home’s palette, combined with an emphasis on textured materials, playful platonic shapes and a disciplined, layered approach to furniture and lighting ensures the various elements of the house now feel like parts of a single expression.
Kennedy Nolan has created a family house which is liveable, light, connected to nature, and is ultimately a sophisticated setting for playful adults and serious children.