Modern Curb Appeal and an Open Plan Make Melbourne Duplex Distinctive

A modern urban oasis situated in a Melbourne neighborhood stands out for its unique style. Rather than presenting the typical double-door garage that faces the street, the welcoming façade of the home features clean geometric lines and a mix of surfaces that provide depth and visual interest.

Designed by Jamison Architects, the duplex home is called Masuto and has spaces bathed in natural light. The layout of the home is open and comfortable, with plenty of connection with its outdoor areas. The materials used on the exterior include vertical black timber cladding that hides the garage doors and lends an air of sophistication and warmth to the façade. Textured tiling under the windows adds a subtle texture that comes to life with shadows when the light changes throughout the day.

Each side of the duplex has this geometric feature around the inset window.View in gallery
Each side of the duplex has this geometric feature around the inset window.

More than just visually attractive, the home is highly energy efficient as well as healthy. The exterior reverse block veneer has excellent thermal mass qualities which work in conjunction with the passive solar design principles used in the construction. The arrangement of the windows to the perimeter enhance ventilation and indoor air quality. All together, these features cut down on energy usage for heating and cooling as well as lighting. The optimum home arrangement puts the functional areas like the garage and utility room toward the middle of the building and the living spaces around the perimeter of the house. This makes the most of the light and ventilation available. Minimalist white trim highlights the recessed windows and the gray blocks add another color and texture to the design.

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A far cry from the typical suburban duplex, this design has modern style.

Inside, the layout is open-plan and takes advantage of the large windows around the perimeter by using a strategic layout. This also directs focus to the windows and the outdoor areas. It is a comfortable and highly functional design where the traffic flow and flood of natural light are prime benefits.

An open plan makes the living space airy, functional and light-filled.
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Another way to bring more of the outdoors inside with a reverse bay area.

The black and white kitchen has all the necessities, packaged in a minimalist design. The large island is made from a solid surface material and is the focal point of the space. Backless bar stools add seating without disrupting the sight line and the cabinetry is sleek and clean without hardware to break up the white plane. Rather than pendants, the kitchen lighting above the island consists of industrial style spotlights. These are less obtrusive and more fitting with the design.

Clean, modern and devoid of any cabinet hardware, the kitchen fits the home’s style.
The design of the island makes it ideal for hanging out with family or friends.

The adjacent living space is filled with low-profile furnishings that complement rather than compete with the overall design. Everything is comfortable and unfussy, creating a relaxing environment. The unbroken expanse of the block wall is a great gallery wall and the unique design that sandwiches the window behind the wall brings in light without sacrificing privacy.

Gray concrete blocks lend an industrial feeling and add a bit of edginess.

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A home like this could easily feel closed in, however a side courtyard and the area near the staircase that opens through both storeys of the house add a sense of spaciousness. The vertical openness also helps connect the various parts of the home into a unified space. The materials used in the home form a textural space that is welcoming and modern. From the dark timber to the stack bond masonry blockwork, the combinations are unexpected and chic, creating the perfect space for emphasizing artwork. The entire home is pulled together by the French oak timber floor in a light grey tone. This is a neutral hue that ties together and modulates the many contrasting shades in the space.

This view offers a good look at the two-story ceiling by the stairs

The entry hall has an inset opening to the stairs, making the space seem larger and more open. The contrast of the dark wood paneling against the white inset adds some visual drama. The area ties together the open plan living, dining and kitchen areas, while simultaneously adding small features that enhance the usefulness of the space. The inset staircase provides room for displaying accessories or dropping keys, and the hall way bench adds a reading nook and a place to sit down and changes shoes.

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The contrast of light and dark adds drama to a standard stairwell.
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Even from the inside stairwell, you can see out the entry door.
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The tall space and wide glass doors make the outdoor area feel like an extension of the home.
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The long hallway is the perfect spot for an inset area for a bench and for a place to highlight artwork.

Running south to north, the length of the home leads to the back yard and outdoor living area. A central courtyard brings additional greenery to the home and provides a private outdoor space. Floor to ceiling windows maximize the amount of natural light for the residents. This is really important because of the long, narrow shape of the house and the lack of large windows on the side facing the neighbors.

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The living area looks out onto the pool through the wall of glass doors.

The large windows throughout the space make the most of the backyard, which is more like a private garden oasis than a regular backyard. The outdoor areas include a covered alfresco space, pool and serene garden. In good weather, the ability to open the large glass door makes the patio area feel like an extension of the interior living space.

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Plenty of space for relaxing or entertaining is included in the backyard.
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The modestly sized pool is also a wonderful visual feature for the home.

The upper level of the house contains the bedrooms and a private family room. The master bath is a zen-like space that is light and bright with accents of natural wood and a free-standing soaking tub. Concealed storage and wall-mounted taps help keep the space free of visual clutter. Transom windows above the vanity area provide extra natural light.

Clean-lined design and the same mix of materials found throughout the home are in the master bath.