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Caroline's contrasting material palette creates a tale of two houses in South Yarra

Petersen D91 bricks, Caroline House

Caroline is an unexpected contemporary delight in a tree lined South Yarra street. Unexpected because while equipped with all the bells and whistles you’d imagine a couple would desire, they’re cleverly contained within an incredibly compact site.

It’s creative design that makes Caroline appear effortlessly large. So, what you feel, even before stepping through the grand entrance of this three-bedroom home, are generous proportions, opulence and stability.

And it’s unexpected because what you experience outside – bold, angular linear lines and a raw material palette – is a delightful, contemporary contrast to what you encounter within – a stark, sculptural interior design. It is indeed a tale of two houses in one.

Cera Stribley Architects is the team behind this thoughtful and immaculate design, a team renowned for its timeless, uncomplicated designs. And Caroline is no exception.

“Our clients didn’t want anything over the top or lavish, and they knew they didn’t need a big house, but they wanted a nice house. So there was a focus of quality over quantity, and you can see that through our use of materials,” Dom Cerantonio, one of the two principals of Cera Stribley Architects explains.

In fact, it’s the material palette that brings these two tales to life. From the street, what you see is a raw palette of handmade Petersen bricks, combined with black sheeting with a custom metal profile, along with black vertical batons for privacy screening on this tight site.

“We wanted quite a strict linear, cold metal to contrast against the warm tones that the brick was giving us, and then that verticality tied into the batons we used for the screening. So you get this kind of black box that’s got a very strong linear nature to it. And that clean crisp detail contrasting against the brick is a really nice relationship,” Dom says.

And it seems that for Dom and his team, brick choice for the façade was easy. “We love it. It’s a simple material but those particular Petersen bricks are exquisite and if you can use them correctly, they just create a beautiful façade that’s timeless, and that’s something we focus on in our architecture,” Dom continues.

Petersen D91 handcrafted bricks

“It’s the texture we love; the variation in colour and texture that you get in the brick I think is second to none. It’s just a beautiful material to work with,” Dom reflects.

Stepping inside this contemporary masterpiece is a contrasting, though thoroughly delightful, bright story. In line with his client’s preference for design modesty, the material palette is a simple white plaster. And when applied to the open spaces and sculptural forms of the interior design, it looks exquisite. The grand entry being case in point. A double height void and the curve of the spiral staircase immediately draw you into the living space, sending your eye skywards to the elongated window. It’s a beautiful bright welcome, and creates a light filled, refined place for the owners to call home.

And while Dom would have loved to use Petersen bricks internally, in this case, against the stark white interior they would have looked out of place. Though where there’s a will, there’s a way. “What we were able to do was use set backs with brick on the outside, which is like using the brick internally, but it’s not actually internal,” Dom says. This has provided a beautiful backdrop to many rooms, cleverly bringing the two stories together.

Needless to say, Cera Stribley’s clients absolutely love Caroline. Their previously tumble down house has been cleverly transformed, creating a stunning, fresh start for the next chapter of their lives. And, with its timeless, uncomplicated design, Caroline is sure to be enjoyed not only by its current owners, but also by many generations to come.

Builder: Conly Architectural Construction (previously Cobuilt)

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