Tranquil and Bold – South Melbourne House by Sanders & King
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Stepping behind the Victorian façade of Sanders & King’s South Melbourne House, one discovers an interior that, inspired by the clients’ love of contemporary European design, is by turns tranquil and bold.
When Taimi Sanders and Elissa King first encountered the home, they found “a tiny Victorian terrace that, at its widest, is only 5 metres wide,” recalls Taimi. “It was extremely small with confined spaces and a 1970s dark, dingy lean-to.” The priority was to open the previously restricted spaces and bring more light into the home. The designers recognised that the rear courtyard not only provided the opportunity to infuse more light into the interior, it also extended the footprint by creating an outdoor living zone. Steel-framed full height glazing provides a strong visual connection between the indoor and outdoor living spaces.
Within the tight confines of the site, skylights and a lightwell between the kitchen and dining are key to bringing natural light into the home. Previously dark and disconnected from the outside world, lines of sight now touch upon greenery and sky, creating calming, naturally-lit spaces. Meanwhile, materials are carried seamlessly from the interior out into the courtyard, with polished concrete flooring, an exposed red brick wall and a cast concrete bench extending uninterrupted through the glazing, ensuring that the courtyard reads almost as part of the interior.
Inspired by the clients’ love of contemporary European design, the designers focused on creating a series of elegant and refined spaces, punctuated with bold colour and textural surprises. Unusually in a project such as this, Taimi recalls that “the starting point was the kitchen. That is not normally our approach, but the Valcucine kitchen from Rogerseller was a key part of the brief and was decided upon as our first design element, which was pivotal. All the finishes for the house were driven by the kitchen.” The kitchen is visually emphasised by a skylight above that provides natural light over the kitchen work zone, and the delight of being able to stand at the kitchen bench and look up to see the sky.
Elissa explains, “the Valcucine kitchens are really state-of-the-art. The quality is unsurpassable, and there are wonderful moments of surprise when you open a drawer and experience beautiful timber or glass detailing – everything is thought of.” With ergonomics top of mind, Valcucine presents functional designs that make everyday experiences effortless. The main unit consists of a New Logica system which has an overhead cantilever door and a lower sliding panel that conceals glass shelving, moveable power outlets and a swivel spout – the perfect solution to quickly and easily conceal any kitchen mess.
“The Valcucine kitchens are really state-of-the-art. The quality is unsurpassable, and there are wonderful moments of surprise when you open a drawer and experience beautiful timber or glass detailing – everything is thought of.”
The minimalist aesthetic of the kitchen set the tone for the interior: grey frosted glass doors, a sandblasted stone island, and natural timber bench all contributed to colour and material palettes that are modern yet also organic and soft. “Because the home is now quite open, we didn’t want to create just a white box,” Taimi says. “Each room tonally connects with subtle shades of soft greys warm timbers, terracotta colours and tan leather added to the mix.”
The client’s deep appreciation for design, in particular European design, influenced the specification of not only the kitchen but the bathware, robes and fixtures from Rogerseller and its European partners. All the tapware and showers are from Rogerseller’s own Eccentric collection, while the client selected basins and integrated cabinets from Rogerseller’s Italian Falper range. Sanders & King recognised that the elegance and minimalism of these products, and the calm, monochromatic grey tones found throughout the interior, created an opportunity to bring in moments of texture and colour. “We chose terracotta, quilted mosaics for the powder room to highlight the simplicity of the Falper basin and accessories,” says Elissa. “The terracotta was a nod to the original exposed red brickwork and reappears throughout the design.”
Initially, the project had been planned as a three-bedroom home, but in the design process, the decision was made to embrace the luxury of a generous master suite that occupies the majority of the top floor. The contemporary, neutral tones of the bedroom create a peaceful atmosphere and highlight glimpses of the original wrought-ironwork that decorates the balcony outside, in a reminder of the home’s heritage.
Moving through the robe and into the master ensuite, the grey palette is continued with an elegant grey-veined marble stone. This continuity makes the showstopping blue mosaic tile that defines the bathing zone all the more impactful. Amongst some of the harder edges of the home, the mosaic-tiled bathing area is emphasised by a curved wall. This curve is referenced again by the circular skylight above and the smooth, subtle curves of the Rogerseller shower. Again, the grey tones are picked up in the graphite finish on the tapware, shower and towel rails.
“Each room tonally connects with subtle shades of soft greys warm timbers, terracotta colours and tan leather added to the mix.”
But for certain preserved heritage elements, such as the restored façade, original staircase and the Victorian scale of the front rooms, the South Melbourne House is almost unrecognisable from the dark and enclosed building that initially greeted Sanders & King and their clients. Yet in preserving these few key elements and in the willingness to embrace aspects of surprise and contrast, the new interior enhances a sense of refinement, elegance and minimalism to create a home that truly reflects the clients’ love of design.