A California Bungalow That Embraces Its Garden

Garden House is a bright and breezy transformation of a previously dark and inward facing brick bungalow in Malvern East, Victoria, by Maike Design, and overseen by Bancroft and Malone Architects. 

The brief provided was to accommodate the growing family’s needs, including the provision of spaces for working from home at odd hours.

‘It was a clean and neat little house, but it needed repairs, and it didn’t functionally meet any of the client’s requirements,’ says Mairead Murphy, director of Maike Design, of the house pre-renovation. 

‘The two almost teen girls were sharing a room (which was definitely starting to wear thin!), the house had almost no storage, it was very cold and damp. and gave next to no connection to the enormous backyard.’

In response, the designers replanned the existing house to feature quiet spaces catering to the ‘inwards facing parts of life’ (three bedrooms, a bathroom, en suite, laundry and lounge), capitalising on the original building’s inherent solidity and calm.  

‘We focused on how the existing spaces could be replanned, using just a few deliberate and considered new openings and small alterations,’ says Mairead.

The most significant update was the opening of the original house rear to the garden designed by Amanda Oliver Gardens, achieved by demolishing the pantry, laundry, and storeroom. 

An adjoining extension was meanwhile added, turning 90 degrees to the original house towards the northern sunlight. Spaces are lined up along the length of a nine-metre long glazed wall, directly connecting each room to the garden. 

‘The design has been detailed to distort the line where the house ends and the garden begins,’ says Mairead. ‘The subtle qualities of the materials shift and change as the light changes outside, just like the garden does.’

Among Mairead’s favourite elements of the project is the glass walkway – the single point where these two structures meet. 

‘As you walk through the house, you step out of the old building, to be down to ground level and surrounded on both sides by greenery,’ says Mairead of this space. ‘For a space that technically doesn’t do anything, it has such a huge impact on the design and how the old and new sit together.’ 

The overall project has allowed for the existing house to be largely retained, while creating space for new rituals and moments of delight – details that really make a home.

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