Little Red Riding Hood is more than just a fairy tale, at least for one Melbourne-based family of six. Instead, it is the place they wake up to and go to bed in; a place they call home.
A residential project shaped by the meaningful notion of family and the overriding principles of simple love, the house had been occupied for several years, but as the four children grew so too did the demands on their dwelling. The parents had also never found a way to inject some soul into the physical, and wanted their home to be brighter and better connected.
In response, internal spaces have been reconfigured and given a new lease of life. Walls were knocked down to create an easy to understand and navigate layout, while a new bathroom and walk-in wardrobe was introduced in the master bedroom with some careful planning. However, a minimalistic take on the re-design was essential as the owners wanted to avoid clutter and fuss.
Ground floor plan. Scale 1:50
First floor plan. Scale 1:50
While a pared back approach can sometimes run the risk of creating bare and plain spaces, warmth is generated through the various material and product choices, such as the timber floorboards and clean and crisp furnishings.
At the heart of it all is the pops of red which run throughout the house. Seen in the dining chairs and kitchen joinery, the bold colour is eye-catching but never overwhelms or weighs down a space. The namesake of the project, red was chosen because of what it stands for – heart, love and emotions – and practically has evolved to become an accent colour bringing a simple home with practical mid-tones to life.
A house can be one of two things – a shell filled with stuff, or a shell with stuff that has the echoed touches of its occupants. Little Red Riding Hood is the latter, and evidently so as soon as one enters the home. Here, Royal Oak engineered floor boards from Harper and Sandiland, pre-stained and pre-finished in Mink Grey, run underfoot, while Dulux’s Natural White paint coats the walls to evoke a sense of simple yet fulfilled living.
All the furniture seen in the living and dining areas are new, connected by similar-shade finishes which minimise fuss. For instance, the American Oak veneer cantilevered shelves in the living room are custom stained to match the Mink Grey floors. The sturdy dining table from MAP International has an American Oak top with a white lime finish and powder coated base, and is complemented by the red stained ash Plywood Porro Neve dining chairs supplied by Space Furniture. A hand tufted, 100 per cent pure New Zealand custom-made floor rug from Bibi Vero completes the space.
In a bid to open up the space and bring light in, a wall that previously ran along the dining room creating a corridor between it and the living room was removed by the architects. Instead, a wall/joinery (with the painting) was introduced, in part to break up the room, and double up as a storage cupboard accessible from the kitchen.
The touches of red seen in the front-of-house extend into the kitchen, a welcoming friend eager to show you where the real action is at. Dulux’s Natural White is used again on the pantry door and kicker, while Dupoint’s Cameo White Corian is applied to the cooking zone benchtop. The red lacquered timber veneer Artek K65 stools are from Anibou.
The real magic, however, is in the stainless steel splashback which slides horizontally to reveal more kitchen equipment such as the toaster and kettle. By creating depth, clutter is once again minimised in this room. Zip’s hydro tap all-in-one-system, Liebherr’s fully integrated fridge, as well as Miele’s large gourmet oven dish and fully integrated dishwasher with cutlery tray, are some of the other appliances used in the kitchen.
The same Mint Grey shade featured in the living areas’ floorboards and joinery is repeated in the powder rooms, as seen in the recessed cupboard doors made from the Royal Oak engineered timber floor boards. According to Nexus Designs' creative director Sonia Simpfendorfer, repeating materials and textures helps to create a calming effect and sense of continuity throughout the house.
The Rogerseller basin has a face glazed with porcelain as it is fixed to the mirror, while the polished chrome mixer and Catalano Sfera wall hung toilet with underbench cistern are also from Rogerseller. The push plate is hidden out of view, but ‘accessible’ via the pneumatic button set, with access to the cistern via a custom panel within the joinery.
The repetition of elements weaves its way into the four children’s bedrooms, which have been designed with similar furniture and joinery, including the wool carpet and overhead shelving unit finished with Dulux Natural White. The Kartell Componibili side tables with a white polyprop finish are supplied by Space, while the metal grey Tolomeo micro bedside and desk lamps are from Artemide.
Despite their similarities, the bedrooms are differentiated by wallpaper colours, each chosen by their owner. The Designers Guild wallpaper seems to come alive with a crayon squiggle that gives a 3D feeling, and includes colours Pimento (red and white stripe) Cobalt (blue stripe), Azure (blue stripe), Heather (purple and white stripe). Designed for kids but not at all childish, these furnishings and furniture are meant to last the children from primary school well into high school, and even university.
The master bedroom remains connected to the rest of the house by shade and material, like the American Oak Veneer shelf which again features the same Mink Grey stain. A small ensuite bathroom, which was introduced by a clever manipulation of space, can be hidden by sliding doors that close off to create a wall of timber.
Notably, the room has also been enlarged by a new walk-in dressing room which was transformed from an open balcony, and now features glazed windows. A Jardan Leila king size bed with Boyac linens takes its spot at the centre of the bedroom.
By shedding unwanted layers of accessories, Little Red Riding Hood achieves what was lacking before – a clever use of spaces that have been rejigged and upgraded so they become both functional and aesthetically pleasing. This is done through a considered design that strikes the right balance between simplicity and eye-catching details, with tried-and-tested elements repeated to create a seamless home enhanced by colour.
Photography by Fraser Marsden