This quaint cottage is anything but basic inside

Step inside this old worker’s cottage to find a contemporary and cozy home that makes the most of its heritage and character with the addition of some eclectic new details.

Situated in the back streets of Albert Park, Melbourne, lies this former worker’s cottage.

Though the exterior carries all the old-worldly charm from the original home, the interior has seen a modern transformation in recent times.

Quaint on the outside, quirky on the inside.

Nest Architects designed this dream home for their clients – a school teacher and a lawyer – who after returning from three years abroad in London, decided their tiny place needed more light and space.

“The clients wanted the two bedrooms and bathroom moved upstairs, and the downstairs replanned to include a study and laundry, along with a light-filled kitchen and living room,” says Emilio Fuscaldo, Director at Nest Architects.

“With such a small space, we had our work cut out for us.”

The house boasts an array of sustainability features like solar PV panels, water tanks, recycled timber flooring, and low VOC paints and finishes.

The floorplan is described as “unconventional” in that the kitchen lies at the front of the house, rather than at the rear as most modern households have adopted.

“Our clients loved cooking so we knew that the kitchen had to have a presence and be the heart of the home, but at the same time we were very keen not to simply provide just another open plan solution,” says Emilio.

A kitchen at the rear of the home would not have provided the desired amount of natural light, and so the team decided to convert the front bedroom into a cooking space with a special connection to the street.

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Open shelving allows the owners to display their collected trinkets.

The curved painted brick facade includes porthole-style windows that allow dapples of jewel-toned light into the upstairs bedroom.

A neutral colour palette is maintained with crisp white walls and timber shelves and detailing, while bright pops make a layered statement in the home’s furnishings and homewares.

This is a purposeful design decision often carried out by the firm. “We view decoration as a really valuable part of the home,” says Emilio.

“We don’t want to the architecture and interior design to compete with their lives; what we create is a backdrop to their life – it’s their house, not ours,” he says.

Small porthole windows allow for a private outlook, and make for an eccentric detail.

“We used a very pared-back colour scheme as we didn’t want to compete with the client’s lovely pieces of art and furniture which are imbued with lots of colour.”

The home appears a well-thought-out, polished masterpiece (and it is), but the design and building process was not without its difficulties, says Emilio.

A study nook under the stairs uses every last bit of space.

“The age of the existing house meant that there were plenty of skeletons hiding behind the walls. I think the whole team (client, architect, and builder) didn’t anticipate what a terrible state the existing structure was in.

“So, the great result was a testament to everyone gritting their teeth and working through those very difficult and stressful moments.”

A blue bathroom to envy.

Another challenge was the space, or lack thereof. But cleverly positioned skylights, a slatted ceiling to create depth and nifty uses of space helped to achieve the look of a larger interior.

“Placing a study in the corridor under a stair is one example of how we used every last millimeter available,” says Emilio of his favourite feature.

A black ceiling framed by white timber battens creates an added depth and extends the space.

All images: Lauren Bamford

Originally published as This quaint cottage is anything but basic inside by Katie Skelly. Author at