Arranging the Puzzle Pieces – Blue Moon House by BayleyWard
The Tongue n Groove Series
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
A heritage townhouse in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra, Blue Moon House saw BayleyWard approach the internal spaces as a series of puzzle pieces, whose arrangement challenges expectations. The result is a home of distinction and character, made possible by a trusting relationship between the clients and the architects.
Olena MacCallum, BayleyWard Custom Homes Director, explains that the project was defined by a restricted envelope that set the parameters for the new work. Within the borders of the envelope, however, “we could move the pieces around, it became very much a puzzle home where we had to be a bit more creative with the expected relationships that you see or experience in a home.” The house was previously renovated in the 1990s when many of the original period features were stripped out, and it became important to re-instill layers of character into the home and respond to what remained of its original identity.
The architects embraced the fact that the original front rooms are inherently dark, with little access to natural light. Instead of trying to address the darkness of these original rooms, BayleyWard decided to tailor the function of these spaces to their dark, private qualities, situating the master bedroom and the family lounge in this front section of the home. And, while they each have a private function, “it’s about the cross views from each space, and how that impacts on each other and the way the colours tie together,” says Olena.
“We could move the pieces around, it became very much a puzzle home where we had to be a bit more creative with the expected relationships that you see or experience in a home.”
In contrast to these darker spaces, the open kitchen, living and dining space is filled with light, opening up to the rear backyard through glazed doors, while large pyramid skylights bring light into the centre of the home. The palette is similarly light and tonal, complemented by the soft grey tones of Ardesia solid engineered European oak floorboards from Tongue n Groove. “We always find that the use of timber is something that is very special within a home,” says Olena. “Tongue n Groove go beyond the normal process of specifier and product. [They] are really interested and invested in the design and the outcomes and they were a great team to partner within this project.”
Gregoire Dorel, Tongue n Groove State Manager Victoria, explains that Tongue n Groove became involved in the project at a very early stage. Looking to create “a very unique pattern in the living area. [BayleyWard] wanted to see the feasibility of such a floor with engineered boards,” he says. “The boards needed to be cut to size on site using very specific tools to make sure that we could achieve the vision of the architect. It was a highly technical project to install. When you walk through the entrance and you get into the living room your eyes get drawn straight away into the pattern – it’s definitely one of the biggest features in the project and something we’re quite proud of.”
“We always find that the use of timber is something that is very special within a home.”
The subtle grey tones of the Ardesia oak floorboards complement the blue moon stone used in the kitchen, from which the project takes its name. “What made [the stone] very special in particular is that it was a task to source. Natural stone has a lot of movement, veining, grains that make it unique, so we had all these people all over Australia measuring their slabs and trying to locate the one slab where the imperfection just happened to be centralised in the sink,” says Olena. “We decided it was worthy of naming the home after.”
Moving from the kitchen, dining and living space to the upper level of the home, a central staircase continues the use of Tongue n Groove oak boards. As an area that receives a high level of traffic and wear, the architects asked Tongue n Groove to find a solution to make it more durable. “Tongue n Groove came up with the idea of supplying a solid tread matching the colour of the flooring with a solid brass insert on the angle so it would be more durable over time, but also complementary with the rest of the design,” says Gregoire.
Working for a client who embraced the process of moving the puzzle pieces around to create an unexpected, yet perfectly calibrated, home was ultimately one of the most rewarding aspects of the project, Olena reflects. “One of the things I’m most proud of with this home is how we’ve been able to functionally challenge some of the ideas of how spaces work and their relationships to each other,” she says.