Grid House by Doherty Design Studio (DDS) employs a pared-back approach to draw an Edwardian family home in Malvern East into contemporary relevance. Leveraging colour and geometry, the new incarnation is both playful and elegant.
Presenting as a white weatherboard, complete with a white picket fence, decorative woodworking and a tidy front garden, Grid House assimilates into its leafy streetscape without much more than a sky blue front door to hint at the resurrection that has taken place inside. Home to a family of four, the clients had outgrown the home over time. They engaged Doherty Design Studio and building designer Ari Alexander to create two additional bedrooms, an additional bathroom and a rumpus space for the children. Without much leniency in the scale of the site, the only way to go was up.
As the old adage goes, Grid House has assumed a new identity through a process of one step back, two steps forward. Unravelling the spatial chaos and lack of natural light that had resulted following a 90s renovation, Doherty Design Studio first brought the home back into harmony with its original Edwardian persona before instilling modernity through a contemporary design intervention that reconciles heritage, innovation and personal character.
The living room features vertical timber panelling intersected by horizontal steel framing in a grid pattern which has bestowed the name ‘Grid House.’ Top artwork by Daniella Mooney. Lower clients own. Ceramics by Steph Wood at Pepite.
A Liquer (oak) table by Ross Didier is completed by Thonet chairs in the dining space. Artwork by Trevor Mein.
Calm has descended on the new interior. An atmosphere that has been largely distilled through colour and multi-faceted consideration for material choices and application. Tall ceilings, strategic placement of windows, and a bold yet refined palette of petrol blue, grey, and timbers lean into a slightly dusty blush balance warm and cool to establish comfort and clarity.
Distinguishing the interior design language is a subtle grid pattern from which the home takes its name. Across the joinery in the kitchen and living areas, vertical timber battens and V-groove panelling accentuate light and space while introducing the possibility to play with geometric form. A deliberate disruption has been introduced through horizontal steel frame detailing. This junction of rectilinear forms and materials creates a subtle tension designed to create interest.
Grid House relies on geometry and a clean pattern language elevated by colour. Sculpture by Pepite.
The kitchen features soft grey tones and an angular Elba marble bench. A Nebulae 13 pendant light by Ross Gardam references both the geometry employed throughout the home and the continuous use of black steel accents. Sculpture on the bench by Kirsten Perry.
The study features artwork by Liam Snootle. Brown bowls by Sharon Alpren, blue bowl from Jardan, a leather vase from Well Placed, small plates from Bitossi and the client’s own white vessel.
Colour is also a spatial delineator and an opportunity to reframe the idea of ornamentation – a design feature that distinguishes Edwardian architecture. DDS has explored this idea through a contemporary lens to define a staircase in petrol blue that marks the threshold between the original and new sections of the home. A band of terrazzo flooring around the base of the stairs is a mediator between the social context of downstairs before the ascent to the home’s private areas and as a way to weave an aesthetic thread that is cohesive throughout.
Integral to the new look and feel of Grid House was the reorientation of the kitchen, dining and living areas to face the pool and garden, creating a verdant interior backdrop and connecting inside and out. Accentuating this connection even further is a ‘floating’ glazed box, where a rear volume juts out to cantilever over the garden, giving the notion of being immersed within it from the sanctuary of the living room.
Throughout Grid House, a uniformity of tones has cast a serene spell softened by the graphic expression of decorative elements. Furniture, textiles and artwork embrace bold colour, igniting joy to counterbalance the elegant restraint of the architecture. Layering the home with facets of ornamentation, the decorative pieces allow the spaces, joinery, and materials to converse, understand one another, and define a richly structured and tonally precise personality.