As you step inside this reworked Melbourne townhouse, there is a sense of being transported out of the city and into a sea of calming neutrals, soft furnishings and warm textures.
Inheriting its name from its rich caramel tonality, House Caramel by Melbourne-based CJH Studio is the perfect backdrop to busy city life. The owners, a professional couple with a young daughter, wanted somewhere that felt completely separate from their work day. An understated palette rooted in modern Belgian design brings this feeling to the fore, fashioning spaces to recharge before the new day.
Doused in the home’s signature caramel tones, the dining space is designed for both entertaining and unwinding. The space features the Maxalto Febo dining chair and Roberto Lazzeroni Mizar Giorgetti dining table. The carved wooden bowls that sit atop the island bench were custom designed by CJH Studio and form one of the client’s favourite pieces in the home.
The existing townhouse, although in fine condition, was unsuited to its new owners both aesthetically and functionally. This warranted a design response that was both sympathetic to the home’s original build and embracing of a new one; maintaining or subtly changing some parts while completely changing others. What started off as some light furniture and structural changes escalated to the point of adding an all-new suite of custom joinery, for which they engaged local craftsman Charles Sandford. While this was unplanned, it was very warmly welcomed by the clients.
The thread of caramel tones throughout reflects the clients’ personalities; they love the sense of calm that the palette exudes and its nuances. CJH Studio director Cassie James-Herrick describes the palette as “intentionally consistent” and “thoughtfully constrained”, requiring great control and attention to detail.
Balancing warm textural elements – natural timbers and stones – with colder metals and glass creates a sense of depth heightened by tactile forms and soft furnishings. CJH Studio deliberately avoided harsh architectural lighting, opting for subtle wall lights and lamps, to ensure the spaces maintained their ambience even during the evenings.
Spaces for connecting and spaces for retreating; achieving a sense of refuge meant leaving room for both. While the owners enjoy their privacy, they also enjoy entertaining; the kitchen, dining and living spaces are all indicative of this. Existing in these spaces alone also feels like an escape. “As you enter you truly feel transported to somewhere else in the world,” Cassie says. “We’re incredibly proud of this outcome.”