Kennon Studios

Location: Melbourne

Designer: Kennon.Studios

Photography: Caitlin Mills

Designed by Kennon.Studios and styled by Manuela Millan, this residence gets a modern makeover for existing Spanish-mission style features.
While designing a house, architects and designers get lost more often than not in the process of trying to create a grand architectural statement. However, as seen in Spanish Mission House by the Melbourne-based design firm, Kennon.Studios, the eclecticism evident by mixing old styles with modern tastes can amplify simple pleasures within a home.
When Glen Murcutt said, “the important thing is that we address the issues, we address the landscape, we address the brief, we address the place… suppose we address those things and do them rationally and poetically at the same time. In that case, we must be getting somewhere,” he was referring to the capabilities of design, particularly design that can enrich lifestyles. Spanish Mission House does just that; it reflects the client’s lifestyle and the era in which the house was built while establishing an identity that surpasses the norm.
A renovation that can only be summarised as a new wave of modern abstraction and historical fiction, Spanish Mission House is a holistic and powerful project outcome. Brought to fruition as the result of a long-standing friendship between the occupant and Pete Kennon of Kennon.Studios, the house truly captures the quintessence of the clients’ personality.
Built during the 1900s, the house was recently purchased in deplorable condition. The lack of spatial articulation did not pose an obstacle; in fact, the design team at Kennon.Studios saw it as an opportunity to revamp the house with architecture and design evocative of the era without being historical. Utilising the remnants of colonial-style Californian architecture influenced by Spanish missionaries during the 19th century, the design team used simple materials and geometric forms to contrast with light, neutral and dark wood furnishings. Hence, the restrained, bare-white exterior contrasts starkly with the interior, especially with dark timber floorboards and furniture.
White interior walls posed as a canvas for the client’s artwork. Complementing the colourless backdrop to create an atmosphere that feels fluid and spacious, Kennon.Studios also included a study with colourful and thoughtful paintings from the client’s portfolio.
Carrying a sense of delicacy that is rare to Melbourne’s homes, Kennon.Studios continues the ‘lightness’ by stripping back north-facing walls to overcome the existing awkward flooring arrangements. Opening up the flow between living and kitchen areas through arched doorways also nods to the buildings past while allowing the dining area to be the house’s focal point. The dining table accommodates any anticipated activity the client may require to quickly transform into a formal or casual space.
A genuinely logical expression of its occupant’s needs, contents, function and setting the Spanish Mission House poetically shows that good architecture and interior design can be achieved simply by addressing the issues, the brief, the landscape and the place.