In North Fitzroy, there's a new house. It's sustainable, it's comfortable, it's modern. But it looks back at the old Edwardian houses in the street. It belongs there. Read more

There’s a picket fence like its neighbours but is composed of simple timber battens. The North Fitzroy house also has a pitched roof, but rather than being tiled this one is constructed in corrugated steel and it has also been skewed to manipulate the natural light entering the home.

Designed for a couple with an adult child who occasionally comes to stay, the façade is clearly contemporary rather than mimicking the past – timber features extensively on the front façade along with hit-and-miss bricks that add depth and texture to the streetscape. And while the single-storey house on the modest site (approximately 350 square metres) is contemporary, those driving past would see it as forming an integrated response in the streetscape.

Unlike many of the neighbouring period houses that feature shotgun corridors through the centre of the floorplan, this house, designed for art collectors, was conceived as a series of thoughtfully linked spaces with courtyards, designed by Kate Seddon, separating the five main zones or pod-like arrangements – a guest bedroom/sitting area, a main bedroom suite, a library, a garage and also an open plan kitchen and dining area, the latter leading to a generous deck. Relatively modest in size, just over 200 square metres, the house feels considerably larger as a result of the courtyards and the shift in the arrangement of the rooms – extending sight lines into the Japanese-style garden.

Polished concrete floors (with parquetry timber in the dining area), pristine white walls to showcase the art and an unusual treatment in the kitchen including a hand-painted glass splashback of a mountainous scene in Sicily, adds to the artistry of this home. And while the finishes and fixtures are bespoke, so is the way rooms, such as the bathroom, are connected to the outdoors with a large glass pivotal door (left open on warmer days). As with the art displayed, colour punctuates the interior such as lime studded rubber floors.

The North Fitzroy house is an example of Steffen Welsch’s work where a design starts with the client’s, responds to their needs and results in something that is not only bespoke, but also enduring.

Text by Stephen Crafti