Waterfall House is a spacious four-bedroom home in Glen Iris, Victoria, originally built in the art deco style of the 1930s. The name is a beautiful reference to the rolling curves in the brickwork and windows of an incredible renovation led by Clare Cousins Architects.

By embracing the existing period house, complete with its quirks and character, the design team has extended and transformed a small, inward-facing two-bedroom residence into a spacious and light-filled four-bedroom home with study. What makes the house stand out in the neighbourhood is the joyful celebration of the art deco curves with Krause Cream bricks playing a major role.

The delightful sculptural curves of the original entry portico provide a hint of the new design inside. The natural slope of the site encouraged a design that steps down from the original house to the new extension containing a kitchen and dining area, and again into a sunken back living room with spectacular floor to ceiling curved glass windows that warmly invite the outside in, shrouding this cosy space in greenery. A much-needed upper floor addition containing three bedrooms sits above this living/dining area, completing the spacious new home.

Forming part of the Summerhill Estate, Waterfall House’s natural and robust palette is a hallmark of Clare Cousins Architects’ designs. Brick is the hero enabling the team to achieve its design intent: To complement the existing house while retaining a character of its own.

Krause Cream bricks, chosen by the architects, clearly reference the cream brick homes dotted throughout the estate and are indeed a beautiful complement.

“The colour was a nice match and had its own character, which was really important, because we didn’t want a flat cream brick; the Krause bricks have a handmade, textural character that we loved. And the fact that they are made locally in Stawell, and that it’s a family business, well we love to support that, too,” comments Oliver Duff, associate, Clare Cousins Architects.

One of the most spectacular aspects of Waterfall House is the brick detailing, a testament to the skills and craftsmanship of Original Projects’ bricklayers (Zain and his team from Brick & Mortar Masonry), who spent considerable time getting it more than just right. Every inch of brickwork is exquisite, particularly the cut brickwork on the upstairs balcony. 

Rich deep brown Spotted Gum complements the bricks, adding warmth to the interior through the window frames and joinery, while a polished concrete floor delivers the ultimate, wonderful contrast to the timber and cream bricks. It is a fitting palette that celebrates, yet modernises the art deco style.

What sets Waterfall House apart is undoubtedly its unique design as well as the way it reflects not just the character of the original art deco house but also the personalities of its owners.

“What was really important to the client was to keep the things they loved about the house and carry them through into the new extension – all of its quirky features, like the outside bath on the upstairs deck and the little round openings between the deck and the garden below. So the outcome is a really nice reflection of the client in the house,” Duff remarks.

Of course, the owners couldn’t be happier with the outcome and, as luck would have it, they were able to move in just as lockdown commenced last year. Waterfall House was (and still is) a magnificent sanctuary for its owners during the tumultuous time that was 2020, providing a safe haven to work and relax in a home they absolutely love.

Photographer: Tess Kelly