Life inside box
Mick and Jules Moloney, co-founders of Moloney Architects, purchased their house 10 years ago. It provided a good location for an architecture studio on the main street, and the back of the block was north facing and very private – an ideal living space for their young and growing family.
But increasing the property’s footprint was always a priority. After a number of design iterations, they decided all they needed was a simple wooden box added to the back of the house to contain the new kitchen, living and dining spaces. “A palette of unfussy materials and the connection to the backyard make the space really enjoyable and usable for the whole family,” Mick says.
Living Area at a Glance
Who lives here: Mick and Jules Moloney, their children Peggy, Eleanor and Henry, and Reddy Spaghetti the dog
Location: Ballarat, Victoria
Size: 60 square metres
Design: Moloney Architects
Mick and Jules retained the integrity of the original 1920s weatherboard home from the front of the block, while adding the 60-square-metre wooden addition to the rear. “The new structure is sympathetic in scale, but we weren’t too concerned with stylistic continuity. Given that we are modern architects we wanted to say, ‘Here is the old, and here is the new.’ The forms sit comfortably together, but each one is an expression of its own time,” Mick says.
When designing the addition, they followed the most fundamental principles of sustainable design: northern light, insulated glazing, high insulation levels and natural cross-flow ventilation in the summer.
The architects gave themselves a very simple brief: to create more room for their growing family in a space that feels relaxed and welcoming. “We started with the interior and considered how we wanted to sit, how we wanted to talk to friends while cooking, and how we wanted to incorporate a television but not have it dominate the space,” Jules says.
A walkway from the hallway to the back door divides the space without any visual or physical boundaries. The kitchen and dining area sit on one side of the passage, and a bookshelf, fireplace and living area with window seat are on the other.
A dropped ceiling between the old and new forms of the house connects the spaces, “sort of like a shadowline connection,” Mick says.
The kitchen is a relaxed and social space. Mick and Jules designed the island bench like a piece of furniture, and had it sit off the floor to enhance the sense of airiness in the room. They also integrated the cooktop into the island bench to encourage conversation between the cook and those sitting around the bench. “We love that you don’t have to turn your back on the space,” Mick says.
The building materials are inexpensive, raw, durable and low-fuss to cope with the inevitable knocks from the kids. In the kitchen, black formply is used for the drawer fronts, pendant and skirting boards. The architects used hoop pine plywood and Tasmanian oak for the window frames and exposed beams, blackbutt flooring and cedar cladding. “We like to use timber as it actually captures atmospheric carbon, unlike aluminium and steel, which have much higher embodied energy,” Jules says.
An informal, open-plan layout keeps the family connected, whether they’re cooking, entertaining or enjoying a meal together. Furniture is simple and fuss-free, in keeping with the theme of relaxed living. “We love the intimacy of a round table,” Mick says.
Table 167 dining table and Chair 170 chairs by Takahashi Asako: Feelgood Designs; Paris Au Mois D’Aout pendant: Hub Furniture
There are a number of focal points in the living area, including the window seat, fireplace and television. However, by cleverly concealing the television when it’s not in use, the fireplace becomes the dominant feature.
Wilfred armchair: Jardan; coffee table: Stylecraft; fireplace: Morso
“We used an oversize sliding panel on exposed rollers to cover the TV, and clad it with mirror to increase the sense of space in the room,” Mick says.
Since the design is all about capturing northern light, the north facade of the timber box has expansive windows, and a window seat with storage underneath that is a much-loved place to sit and soak up the sunshine. “It’s definitely our favourite spot,” the architects say.
This story originally appeared on Houzz.