Mexican-Swiss Chalet - Malmsbury House | Perversi-Brooks Architecture
St Kilda, Vic, Australia

Rebecca Wilkinson

Ben Hosking

This 1970s house has been reinvented with a stunning fusion of Mexican and Swiss chalet architectural design.

Also known as Malmsbury House, this Mexican-Swiss Chalet inspired house, located in rural Victoria, was created by the client; who is a Swiss, French-speaking, ex-chef, ex-toy museum owner, collector of all things amazing and bizarre, turned artist, who is now heavily inspired by Mexican colour, pattern and imagery.

Interior design to the existing house was a dark and drab looking, mud-brick home built in the late 1970s.

With the owners finding each space too dark and lacking character, designers Perversi-Brooks Architects helped design an open and light space, which reflects the owner’s personal character of Swiss Chalet and Mexican influence.

A glazed sunroom extension was added to provide an open and light space, where one could sit and read, eat breakfast – all in the comfort of their own home, whilst still being surrounded by the lush green and natural environment.

The sunroom extension was designed to draw more-light deeper into the living areas, but also to visually extend the living space of the house out into the landscape.

A brick floor within the sunroom internally folds up into a seated plinth edge which slips through full height glazing to become a strong geometric plinth in the garden. The idea over time is to have pots and plants strewn across this geometric form, creating a ‘fuzzy’ edge between the building and the landscape.

The house itself is nestled within a well-established landscaped area to the north of the existing house, and provides a space for the owners to appreciate the garden in the warmth of the sun.

The interior design of the house was gutted of the kitchen, bathroom and the two stairs, and the shell of the existing structure; mud brick, traditional brick, timber and other linings, were all painted white, to lighten and brighten the whole volume of space throughout the house.

A new kitchen was introduced, with timber veneer fronts, overhead cupboards, and stainless-steel bench tops, robust enough to deal with the punishment of an ex-chef.

A black steel Spiral stair replaced the two existing timber stairs which ate up valuable floor and wall space, and a bridge was also introduced to link the two lofts, which were left ‘as-is’ other than a lick of fresh paint and the relay of new carpet.

In the lounge area, a large monolithic joinery unit was placed behind the existing fireplace, where one of the stairs once stood, this doubles as a Robe into the second Bedroom, and also holds the TV, stereo, books, and wood storage to the living room side.

The joinery acts as a sort of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ displaying some of the owners most prized pieces; A 17th century doll, a number of candelabras, a clock, an underwater diver, and a number of toy cars.

An elaborate antique Murano glass chandelier was suspended over the existing large timber dining table, and another display cabinet adjoins the dining area in the space of the second original stair.

A third display cabinet was inserted in the place of an old external door, visually opening out the end of the corridor, and displaying more objects from both within and outside the home.

The Bathroom was rejuvenated with crisp white tiles, a heated towel rail, and high-end fixtures and fittings.

A custom-designed mosaic fills one wall, incorporating Mexican-like colours in the figure of a large pixelated octopus – a celebratory moment of the owner’s previous passion as a seafood chef.

With the addition of the panelled glass on the exterior design of the house, reflections of the surrounding natural environment are seen both throughout the interior and the exterior, creating a stunning illusion of light and colour in each space.

Photography by Ben Hosking.

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