New house — award-winning Fitzroy flair

Our client had purchased a double-fronted block in Fitzroy, with a derelict, L-shaped Victorian house in the centre. While technically speaking this was a renovation and extension project, we also classify it as a “new house”: the existing house was completely gutted to the frame and such vast extensions added to both the front and back that the original frame forms only a portion of the new. Although at three storeys the original building may have seemed impressive on paper, it was actually rather small.

A quite conservative Heritage advisor at council insisted that the new design be reduced in size by around half. However, we were able to work with the city town planner to achieve most of the intended design.


The brief

  • A home with cutting-edge and unique flair
  • Utilise all three possible levels as much as possible
  • Four bedrooms and four bathrooms
  • Gracious living and entertainment spaces
  • A “Henry Higgins” staircase and library (inspired by the 1964 movie My Fair Lady)
  • Loads of natural light
  • Take advantage of views from upper floors

The outcome

The large front extension was kept to two stories, in keeping with neighbouring property street frontages.The street entrance is actually a gatehouse, with a Japanese-style garden leading to the front door. In the curvaceous entry foyer, a light-filled courtyard frames a tranquil, reflective pond. In the foyer is also a new three-storey staircase, which artfully weaves in and out of the old brick walls. The large ground-level dining room was designed to maintain Victorian charm, with views at one end to the reflective pond, and to a BBQ courtyard at the other end.

A long galley kitchen links the original house via a curved walkway to a new, extensive double-cube extension at the rear. A stylish circular steel staircase leads to an upstairs library in a similar way to Henry Higgins’ home in My Fair Lady. With collaboration from a structural engineer, the balusters are structural, making the staircase extremely sturdy.

Upstairs, generous bedrooms for the family are on level two. On level three is the master bedroom retreat, with spa bath in front of a large picture window, and balconies to soak in the views.

Master Builders award, featured in The Age

Not long after it was completed, the property was officially recognised as outstanding by the Master Builders Association of Victoria, and was featured in The Age.


A nod to 1964 and My Fair Lady

The staircase & library—with a modern twist—inspired by Henry Higgins’ home.



The original property before we started

The property our clients purchased was derelict, yet the building was subject to strong Heritage control.


The old building needed complete re-invention

All the charm of an abandoned asylum?