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Gable House


Melbourne Australia


New Build

Floor Area:


Site Area:


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This inner-urban Melbourne build boasts cathedral ceilings worthy of choir song.

Home to a busy family and their much-loved fur child, Gable House is a modern sanctuary and alter to serenity.

With a pilot, teacher and teenager in the mix, the design had to cater to a few different circadian rhythms.

To achieve this, the house was carefully zoned into separate living areas. A second bathroom adjoining the guest room accommodates pilot Mark’s unusual shift-work hours.

Seemingly contrasting priorities of separateness and togetherness were at play for the modest-sized site. The family wanted:

  1. Individual spaces to retreat/ study/ sleep

  2. A light-filled hearth to the home, with the kitchen and dining offering a place to congregate and connect.

The kitchen-outdoor connection was significant for Chrissie, who loves to entertain. A perch in the weekend sun with a sneaky coffee from the café next door was also a key agenda item.

The setting

Set on a compact site, the 4-bedroom home focuses on luxury and quality space. The budget concentrated on what mattered most to the owners – kerbside appeal and a communal indoor-outdoor living area with northern aspect.

Building beside a neighbourhood café with no front setback offered dual gifts. Not only could the home come forward in the site, the perfect Melbourne coffee was also easily accessible for shift-work wake-ups.

The collaboration

The joy of architect Jane Macrae’s work is the problem-solving and collaboration that comes from designing each house WITH her clients.

“There can be a bit of ego in the architecture game, so I try to keep it real…,” says Macrae. “I figure, if the client loves it, it’s a success.”

“I make it my business to understand how my clients live and want to live. The fact that I now count many as friends is testament to great collaborations.”

“In this case, the owner Mark and I clicked right away and a great working relationship evolved. Mark is a very detail-driven pilot with a brain that is excited more by engineering than aesthetics – always thinking 10 steps ahead.

“He is one of those incredibly special clients – wonderfully trusting with the design, while making it his mission to ensure it was executed to perfection.

“Chrissie was more involved in the interiors and interested in the ‘feel’ of the space. They were a perfectly balanced team, each playing to their strengths.”

For Mark and Chrissie, the feeling is mutual.

“Jane was completed unfazed by the challenges presented to her,” said Mark. “She took our ambitious brief and maximised every element of the space. She made it easy.

“We don’t regret a single decision we made. It exceeds every expectation we had of what a beautiful and functional home could be.”

What was the brief?

The initial brief was for a large family home that didn’t look ‘big’, and was respectful to the scale and style of the streetscape.

The owners wanted to strike a balance between “respect to location and history” and “being of its own time”.  Add a walled garden oasis and cathedral ceilings into the mix and it was “challenge accepted”!

What was the design aesthetic?

The client favoured a mix of white, crisp and modern on one hand, and traditional weatherboard/ gable forms on the other.

In Mark’s words, “Something modern and minimalist which could nestle convincingly among single-fronted Victorian cottages.”

The clients came to the table with clear ideas, but were keen to be challenged. So, while the design has stylised some fairly conventional forms , the house is full of modern comforts and features.

What were the design challenges?

The major challenge was the desire for a spacious family home with double garage on such a compact inner-urban site. At first it sounded like a tall ask.

The solution was to capitalise on the precedent of the adjoining cafe with no front setback. This allowed the build to come forward on the block. In the process, the client gained distance and privacy from the two-storey rear neighbour, and allowed light into living zones.

Owner’s favourite feature?

“We love the façade, with its timber wraparound, bold staircase and imposing front door,” says Mark. “It has a ‘punch in the face’ impact that attracts the attention of every passer-by.”

“Inside, the house is a soothing haven. Every day we appreciate Jane’s consideration of window placement, lighting and the soft finish of the spotted gum flooring.”

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