When we first got our design hands on Wentworth Street, it was a tired federation cottage, bursting at the seams. More space to accommodate a young family of four was the top priority for our clients, which saw our studio take an architectural approach to the renovation.


In a bid to better serve the family’s long-term needs, we introduced a first floor and restructured the floorplan, optimising the original living zones and providing plenty of room for retreat. Limited to strict council regulations that opposed a faux-federation addition, we opted for contemporary architecture in stark contrast to the original build.


This serendipitous juxtaposition between federation and contemporary set the tone for the rest of the renovation. Embracing the narrative of old and new, we preserved the integrity of the original build by avoiding imitation, instead, introducing an assured modern aesthetic. One look at the heritage façade and you would hardly imagine the strong, clean-lined timber-screened haven at the rear.


Inside the home, a thoroughly contemporary layout unfolds, exhibiting all the modern-day necessities, including a cleverly built-in office nook and generous kitchen island – the perfect stage for juggling family life with ease.


Designed with long summer evenings in mind, the ground floor houses one sprawling, sun-soaked communal area, with the kitchen, dining and living area opening onto an expansive entertaining courtyard at the rear. It’s an idyllic social sanctuary, fit for hosting any manner of soiree or children’s party.


Throughout, contemporary distinctions have been celebrated, evident in the clean lines and sleek finishes, all the while referencing what went before. Steel-framed windows and the geometric staircase are offset by dark-stained herringbone flooring and custom arched joinery, which pay homage to the traditional features of the original build.


In the kitchen, panelled cabinetry, informed by the federation era, and a powdery white palette continue the careful dialogue between past and present.

Beyond the kitchen’s white oasis lies a more formal dining area, set for intimate, sit-down affairs. A hanging pendant by Melbourne-based designer Christopher Boots grounds the dining setting in the open-plan space, and commissioned artwork by celebrated Australian artist Kerry Armstrong further defines the area.


The touches of luxury are undoubtedly impressive but given this is a home for a young family, our brief for a timeless interior that was not too serious or precious was our ultimate goal. Every design element is practical and has a purpose, and the result is a tangible sense of authenticity throughout.


A contemporary sanctuary fit for a young family now resides behind the federation façade, affording a real sense of two eras meeting in harmony.

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All images ©Alexandra Kidd Design