A delicate extension transforms a former Georgian-style Presbyterian manse into a contemporary and enduring family home.
Constructed in 1856 in Melbourne’s historic Williamstown precinct, Park House has been reimagined by Melbourne-based firm Mim Design, carrying the architecturally-significant home into the present while respecting its legacy.
In collaboration with architectural firm Pleysier Perkins, Mim Design merge the character of the former with its robust contemporary. The interior design firm’s principal Mim Fanning says they ultimately set out to create a nuanced response to place. “We contrasted rugged materials and refined architectural gestures to offer subtle changes in the atmosphere of this unique space,” Mim says.
Mim Design associate Lisa Ransom says the existing dwelling demanded a meticulous touch. “Timber floorboards were carefully extracted, renewed and re-laid in a stain colour approved by Heritage Victoria,” she says. “Walls were reskinned in the traditional manner of the lathe and plaster they once had, while conventional lime mixes were used to repair any internal damage.” To protect the home’s long-term structural integrity, Lisa says shadow lines and picture rails were incorporated into original rooms in place of cornices.
Off-form concrete celebrates the homeowner’s professional background while also tapping into the original home’s long-wearing exterior.
Additions to the original home post-1882 were respectfully removed, making way for the existing extension. “Fireplace mantles and fascia tiles inauthentic to the home’s conception were removed and replaced with originals from Australian homes far and wide,” Lisa says. The result is a clear illustration of the home’s authentic charm.
In the new extension, large spans of concrete celebrate the client’s background in infrastructure, further highlighting the building’s textural bluestone qualities. “The use of plasterboard is replaced with textured and polished renders, timber and metal panelling,” Mim Design creative director Emma Mahlook says. “It was a balancing act in restraint and abundance”.
The kitchen island bench creates a striking centrepiece from CDK Stone in matching New Elegant Grey – delicately chiselled with a ribbed texture by Stonelux. Pauline counter stools by BRDR provide optional seating. Stained black crown-cut American oak cabinetry by Leeda Projects provides a dramatic backdrop, while integrated Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances affirm the kitchen’s culinary capabilities.
“The original front rooms reflect intimate retreats, combining soapy tones and organic forms, while the rear addition creates a deep, tonal contrast.”
In the main living area, a striking black helical staircase purposefully contrasts the limestone floor underfoot while softening the space. Paying homage to the home’s history, the material palette is inspired by its bluestone facade. “Park House amalgamates romanticism and rawness,” Emma says. “Rough, saw-cut and chiselled stone is complemented by tones of dove grey and charcoal as well as aged accents that will naturally patina over time,” she adds.
Park House serves as a connection to the past – a pillar of history and an ode to traditional craftsmanship. Paying tribute to the original home, Mim Design draws on the knowledge of the past while designing for the future with consideration, longevity and purpose.
Mim Design conceptualised a custom bedhead crafted by Leeda Projects for the primary bedroom, adorned with bespoke Articolo Eclipse wall sconces.
An Apaiser oval-shaped bath takes pride of place paired with refined Rogerseller tapware. Floor-to-ceiling tinted glass panelling leads to private areas while still optimising a feeling of space.
The primary bathroom mirrors the kitchen with a combination of textural and polished finishes, as seen in the CDK Stone Super White marble with a unique handcrafted texture by Stonelux. Rogerseller tapware adds subtle sophistication, while pale Feathers timber cabinetry delivers warmth.
An original staircase in the manse is delicately restored to retain its former heritage charm.