Brighton Residence by Melbourne-based interior design practice Hecker Guthrie channels Southern Italy’s artisanal qualities, tactile materiality and earthy palette while retaining the ornamentation of its Victorian heritage.
The family home on the bay has been transformed through a design methodology that mediates between period features and new additions to impart a radiant warmth and an abiding sense of sanctuary. “We wanted to explore the concept of a contemporary Italian country home while still having a space that spoke of the heritage of the 1800’s Victorian home here in Melbourne,” Hecker Guthrie interior designer Caroline Hedley says. The resulting home features two disparate yet complementary volumes — the original at the front and a modern addition to the rear — unified by colour but respectfully differentiated by materiality.
In keeping with the prevailing historic narrative at Brighton Residence, touchstones have emerged within its interior such as a continuation of the facade’s hawthorn brick inside, the creation of sightlines towards a mature olive tree in the courtyard and a dedication to tones that absorb light. These have shaped the home, guiding it into a new iteration inspired by the client’s recent holiday to Italy.
On arrival, the home’s genesis is celebrated and tilted slightly for modernity. “The existing home has been reinstated, capturing the essence of its heritage,” Caroline says. The elegant strength of the period arches and mouldings seem to carry its solidity in a comforting allusion to this home’s long history. Complimented by plaster pendants by Anna Charlesworth, which extend on the chalky softness of the original plasterwork, the journey through the front volume of Brighton Residence becomes a gentle unfolding into a new contemporary expression.
A second entry has been created through an oversized arched steel framed glass door to the side of the property. Equally as impressive as the primary entrance at the front, this one leads into the beginning of the new addition. “We retained the existing rear facade of the home, which becomes the first internal wall of the extension,” Caroline says.
Lined in hawthorn brick, the impression is one of “texture and scale as the curved plaster stair welcomes you” and a view into the courtyard and the olive tree at its centre. “Both entrances are grand in scale but intimate in connection; a restrained relationship, weaving a narrative of old into new.”
“The sensitive additions through the back of the home create a place for the family to gather,” Caroline says of the space which holds the living, kitchen and dining room. Unlike the front with its subtly darker tones and sense of quietude, the rear is light and airy, pierced with slanted sun and filled with a clarifying atmosphere. A strong connection to the garden has been fostered by windows framing the leafy Mediterranean landscape.
Leaning into this sentiment is a robust curation of materials that simultaneously build upon the Southern Italian ambience while encouraging the racing in and out of small feet upon stone flooring. A handcrafted quality rests upon the danish bricks and timber joinery. These “speak to Hecker Guthrie’s values of working with talented craftspeople, robust and honest materials and delivering timeless and considered design,” Caroline adds.