South Melbourne Home by Rob Ryan Projects



Local design studio Rob Ryan Projects overhaul a period home in South Melbourne to meet the needs of a whole new generation.

Design Director Rob Ryan and his team were introduced to a quaint family home in South Melbourne, among a row of charming timber terraces. The owners and their two children didn’t want to move from their beloved home, but asked for a refurbishment that let the home work to their requirements and routine.

The brief called for additional space for the young clan and a connected series of reflective and open living areas that captured natural light and maximised connection to the outdoors. While the heritage requirements may have made this no walk in the park, they’ve revealed Rob Ryan Projects’ knack for bespoke and tailored design innovation, sympathetic to the old.

South Melbourne Home by Rob Ryan Projects

Rob Ryan Projects took an approach respectful to the existing home, but one that prioritised functionality through the contemporary interior. Essentially, this manifested in how the family occupy the space and how it can nurture their day-to-day.

Design Director Rob Ryan said the clients had owned the house for a number of years and were adamant they wanted to keep the home and renovate instead of starting from scratch. “The family was attached to the house and also being time poor, they needed a designer who understood their needs and could design and manage the process from start to finish,” Rob said.

The Victorian cottage has a heritage overlay, so the front of the home needed to remain in tact, while a lateral solution was made. This also led decision making on the materials and finishes used in the renovation which needed to correspond with the original structure.

“Primarily designed as a slatted timber box, externally, we selected a timber battens (Pacific Teak) to clad the addition at the rear,” Rob said. “The battens will ‘grey off’ over time, echoing the eucalypt trees surrounding the site.” Horizontal louvres provide privacy and natural light internally, while respecting views into neighbouring properties.

South Melbourne Home by Rob Ryan Projects

The kitchen features Gagganeau appliances.

South Melbourne Home by Rob Ryan Projects

According to Rob, the team explored opportunities to increase internal volumes, light and connection through double height spaces and floor-to-ceiling glazing. “The site is narrow, so it was critical to ensure that there was adequate natural light penetration,” he said. “The use of oak veneer and white 2-pac paint for the joinery and oak timber floorboards, ensured that the interior would be a bright, warm and comfortable space.” Rob said he selected natural stone in the kitchen for additional texture in an otherwise pared-back palette.

What’s clear in all stages of the project is that this home is custom made to the client’s family life, fulfilling its function perfectly. “From the masterplan to the configuration of the kitchen to the roof terrace with views to the city, the design and the environment both internal and external aligns with how the family lives today and accommodates their future needs,” Rob said.

South Melbourne Home by Rob Ryan Projects

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