Not everyone views Beaumaris’ mid-century homes as architecturally significant, but those who do work tirelessly to ensure their preservation.

Architect Wilko Doehring of Wilko Architecture purchased this 1956 brick property in the Melbourne bayside suburb with his wife Liesl in 2014. The real estate listing didn’t even show the house’s interior, instead advertising the property as a ‘blank canvas’ on a ‘vacant block’ prime for redevelopment.

Wilko had other ideas, describing the house as a tired but classic example of mid-century architecture. ‘It was a bit tired but worth saving,’ he says. 

The architect approached the restoration as though the home was heritage protected, despite the original architect being unknown and council not interested in the property’s preservation. 

The only structural changes made to the house was the removal of a wall between the kitchen and dining area, and in the bathroom. Otherwise, renovations were limited to improving the home’s energy efficiency and cosmetically updating the interiors.

A renovation in the ‘70s had given the home a ‘mission brown medieval makeover’ that Wilko stripped back to its original, more subdued state. Carpets were removed to reveal the repaired timber floors; new joinery was crafted from Tasmanian oak veneer; and VJ lining was reused (where not termite damaged) or replaced. 

‘To make a small modest home look larger we found it beneficial to stay coherent with the materials and colours throughout the house, which creates a nice flow between spaces,’ says Wilko. 

A green kitchen rangehood and light fixtures throughout provide an occasional pop of colour that resembles the old tea trees around the house. 

While aesthetically restored, the original home’s energy efficiency has been greatly improved in the renovation. All rooms are now acoustically and thermally insulated; all doors were replaced with solid core doors; and 26 solar panels were installed on the property.

The only visible new addition from the outside is the fence surrounding the front yard—a custom design by Wilko made from Queensland eucalyptus posts.

Kinder House is featured in the newly-released book Beaumaris Modern 2 by Fiona Austin with Simon Reeves, published by Melbourne Books, RRP $65, available now.

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