Mid-century nostalgia in House Northroy

A living contradiction at once resolute and regal, the stately brick base of this house by Dan Gayfer Design occupies a five-metre-wide block in Melbourne’s Fitzroy North. Inside, a Mid-Century refuge unfolds.

  • Mid-century nostalgia in House Northroy

Text by Emma-Kate Wilson

Unfolding from the street, House Northroy maximises space on a tight block. A heritage facade begins the narrative, with a contemporary addition extending the symmetry of angles.

Dan Gayfer Design, with New Zealand architects Lloyd Hartley, set out to balance the context of an archetypal Victorian terrace with something part-industrious, part-rugged, and exposed. “The architecture and its materiality – bricks and metal – also portray these characteristics,” says Gayfer. “The strong, commanding brick structure portrays a hard-working appearance that can withstand the rigours of such a site.”

Within, joinery maximises every millimetre of the floor plan. Indeed, the bespoke furniture is part of the architecture. Instead of a sofa, desk or day bed that doesn’t quite fit the space and creates ‘dead’ areas, “the custom furniture fits like a puzzle piece in the puzzle,” says Gayfer.

The home unfolds in the original Victorian terrace with the two children’s bedrooms. Journeying into the new build, the family bathroom offers a transcendent experience. Green square tiles cover the floor and walls, including the walk-in shower (fittingly called ‘frog’ by Perini Tiles).

Dan Gayfer Design - House Northroy

The kitchen, at the centre of life in this narrow terrace, has light streaming through the abundant windows. A perfectly placed bench seat, bathed in sun, provides additional storage and an informal living room. Here, Mid-Century inspiration sings. The hues invite a sense of nostalgia, all while a contemporary narrative disrupts and refreshes.

The Artedomus ‘Zaragoza’ marble benchtop offers a visual showstopper. The gold veins pop from a neutral backdrop, tying together a symphony of colour from the Blackbutt doors and drawers, mossy-toned Artedomus ‘Chifu 3090’ tiles, soft grey overhead cabinetry, and brass handles. Behind the kitchen, a bench seat is upholstered in Warwick Fabric ‘Clove’ Thomas Maxwell London Club leather.

Meanwhile, the clients wanted the dining to be the heart of the home. Gayfer shares they honoured this by placing it in prime position, at the end of the ground floor. “Sunk to courtyard level and partnered with an enticing bar, this space can triple in size with the doors open. Understandably, family and friends gravitate [here] for both intimate and social gatherings,” he reveals.

The courtyard features crazy paving and a strip of landscaping wrapped in brick, inviting the history of the original building. Out here, we see the effects of the modern addition. Clad in white ‘Southerly’ Colorbond, the juxtaposition between the old and new is clear, while the gabled roofline still echoes the history.

Dan Gayfer Design - House Northroy

On the first floor, a corner window offers urban vistas of the streets below. This special spot, found up the timber stairs, brings the custom joinery with it for an office that blends into a deep and cosy couch – a place to retreat from the happenings below.

A sentiment mirrored in the main bedroom, featuring neutral and clean lines that extend into a pitched roof. The ensuite then contrasts the family bathroom with light and soft pinks – Perini’s Martino ‘Terracotta Matt’ on the walls and Fibonacci’s terrazzo tile in ‘Khaki Jam’ underfoot (also featured in the monolithic stone vanity). The final piece of the puzzle? A north-facing rooftop terrace, perfect for sundowner cocktails, with a custom bench seat upholstered in a Kvadrat soft pink fabric.

The beauty of this project is evident through the client-architect relationship: “The clients had total trust in us to make the most effective decisions that not only achieved the best possible outcome but ensured a consistent concept or design philosophy was applied throughout,” says Gayfer. The result is a timeless family home that balances heritage and contemporary, from every aesthetic detail to architectural form and function.   

Dan Gayfer Design

Photography by Dean Bradley

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Dan Gayfer Design - House Northroy
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