Every once in a while we enjoy the privilege of stepping inside the home of a designer. Adding to our high-calibre list is the home of Dominic Pandolfini and his family of four – or rather five, including their beloved pooch. In the highly desirable bayside suburb of Port Melbourne, Pandolfini has opened up a narrow terrace with his design-forward approach to family living.
Five years ago Dominic founded local Melbourne firm Pandolfini Architects and since, his team has graced commercial and multi-residential projects across Australia. With over ten years experience under his belt, Dominic decided to take on his own century-old Melbourne home and its heritage controls alike. Met with the challenge of restoration, the timber front facade is relatively unchanged, with a certain sentimentality for the past. Inside, lightweight timber construction was a traditional method employed in the street-facing bedrooms, respectfully taking the rooms into a new era. The new is embraced heedfully, in the core filled concrete block boundary walls and a thin steel-framed two-storey addition to the rear of the home. The exterior cladding is folded black zinc, revealed in the pitch ceiling of the living areas. Connecting the two floors is a solid, steel plate balustrade bolstering the staircase, welded and shaped on site to fit. The robust build is on concrete foundations, complete with hydronic heating in the polished structural slab. Here, everything is made to last.
“We wanted a house that was simple, timeless and hardwearing. Despite the constraints of a long narrow site, we wanted to create some generous spaces that had a sense of drama.”
– Dominic Pandolfini
From the get-go, Pandolfini set out to expand the original building with a refreshing focus on shared, inclusive spaces. The flow on effect is dramatic; double height ceilings and spacious living areas bathed with sunlight, courtesy of custom fabricate, full height steel-framed windows. In this distinctly Australian way, the home encourages outdoor entertaining, being further equipped to welcome guests through extending both sides of the living area to include the courtyard. This marriage of functionality and aesthetic can be seen on each level, such as in the storage solutions concealed by ample timber cabinetry. There’s no denying that Pandolfini knows family living down to a tee.
Proof that great design centres on quality materials and manufacture, the interiors emphasise concrete throughout, closely followed by steel – two materials that are known for durability and practicality. To soften these masculine accents, Pandolfini Architects chose oak timber veneer and timber battens in the home’s joinery. A curved timber-batten base kitchen bench neatly segments the living space, while clean lines and polished white surfaces unify the kitchen and bathroom. Stepping into the bathroom, it’s as if you’ve reached a residential resort, detailed with terrazzo tiles to inject a sense of depth. Atop of this neutral palette, the home is carefully dressed with objects of interest and integrity. Pandolfini has selected furnishings that add a playful splash of rich colour or textural appeal, on a less-is-more philosophy.
The Port Melbourne home abounds with the cues of a clever craftsman, where the word ‘custom’ doesn’t go astray in any aspect of the interior or exterior. With this enduring approach, each space is professionally considered, yet wholly personal – tailored tastefully to the needs of a young family.
“Maximising access to natural light was key. A large open plan living area was prioritised over the three compact bedrooms and two bathrooms.”
– Dominic Pandolfini
Take design cues from where avant-garde is best appreciated – in a designer’s home.