Midcentury Inspired Bungalow in Melbourne

Northcote House

This bungalow outside of Melbourne displays a California character common in the streetscape. Taking inspiration from Palm Springs modernism, this house uses vernacular local materials to offer both comfort and privacy for the growing family.

Nest Architects knew that when the family approached them for their home, they did not want another typical cold modernist glass box bungalow. The site in the Northcote suburb, a lush and densely vegetated street, originally had a mix of Victorian cottages and California bungalows. The project architect, however, felt that a bungalow was too restricting and approached the project with caution and more nuance.

Northcote House
Northcote House
Northcote House
Northcote House

They wanted a space that would fit into the overall character of the street, but still displayed their unique interests and needs. As such, the architects drew inspiration from the clients’ vacations and childhood homes, making it a uniquely personal project. The end result was a combination of California style bungalows and Australia’s popular Queenslander buildings.

The architects believe that what makes a home is its inhabitants. So, in their design, they put the family first. The 2900 square foot, two level home is warm and inviting, focused on the familial relationships it hopes to encourage and support. 

Northcote House
Northcote House
Northcote House
Northcote House

The master’s bedroom creates a private space for the parents, with a generous balcony to the outdoors. A private bedroom downstairs is set up so that the children can have privacy when they become older. An outdoor corridor helps the parents watch their kids while they play outside.

Northcote House

Though the project takes inspiration from California, the materials they used are truly Australian. The simple palette consists of neutral and soft tones that let the furnishing and furniture shine. The recycled timber floor displays the sustainability that is important for the family. Local design stores help furnish the house with pieces from designers such as Pop and Scott.

While the existing house belonged to a row of bungalows that created a picturesque streetscape, the clients’ young family was quickly outgrowing their house’s outdated brick walls and limited space.

Fortunately, Ply Architecture had enough space on the site for a sprawling yet low scale volume that could capitalize on the original house’s northern orientation.

They extended the interior programs of the existing house, grouping these spaces according to their function while maintaining visual connections among them. To promote an efficient structural layout and form and maintain consistent proportions, open volume gables anchor flat minimalist forms.

Design concepts of scale and intimacy are likewise achieved through “a series of emphasised horizontal members [spanning] the width of each space”.

Northcote House
Northcote House

The house is designed to be flexible to suit the family’s evolving needs. Furthermore, it caters to guests and allows them to experience the house as they would if they lived there by inviting equal attention to the street and the backyard. Connecting to the outdoors, like for many Australians, was of utmost importance to the clients. As such, there is a veranda that can host guests or function as an outdoor dining space.

Northcote House
Northcote House
Photos by om Blachford