40 Dalgety St, St Kilda, a majestic Victorian terrace, currently on the market with Kay & Burton Partner Andrew Sahhar, was initially renovated by the present owner more than 15 years ago.

The below article, written by Stephen Crafti, appeared in House & Garden in 2017 . . .  

A light touch included a few French doors to a patio and renovating an upstairs bathroom. However, while the accommodation was more than adequate for a single guy, the quality of the renovation, together with its poor connection to the outdoors, instigated a second phase. “This renovation initially started out simply with the kitchen. Gradually, it extended to other parts of the house,” says architect Nick Harding, Principal of Ha Architecture Product & Environment, whose practice is highly attuned to the connection with the outdoors. 

The previous kitchen, located to the rear of the three-level house (two levels at the front and three at the rear due to the three-metre fall in the land), was adequate, but far from engaging. “It was fairly basic, with timber floors, laminate joinery and plantation shutters,” says Harding. 

One of the starting points for Ha Architecture’s design was replacing the French doors, as well as a number of other doors, with a series of retractable steel doors that can be pulled right back to link with the new deck. Featuring casement-style windows within each steel-framed panel, there’s a quiet ‘nod’ to the work of early 20th century architect Adolf Loos. A highly polished concrete island bench also replaced laminate joinery, with its sides wrapped in steel. And to minimise wear and tear on the concrete, a timber chopping block was cleverly inserted. “There are a few marks on the concrete. But it’s fairly robust and regularly given a hard workout by our client who has spent years in the hospitality industry,” says Harding. The laminate kitchen cupboards were also replaced by new ones, made from timber and stained in a charcoal hue, two of which conceal the fridge and a separate pantry. And to create relief from this grey palette, Harding inserted an ‘Escher’-like ‘carpet’ of black and white tiles at the core of the kitchen. 

Just when Harding thought the project was completed, his client started looking at other parts of the house. The two front rooms of the house were formerly enclosed with a rudimentary side door leading to the rear terrace. Ha Architecture cleverly broke through the walls on either side of the two fireplaces in both rooms, allowing sight lines from the front door to the terrace. One of these rooms is now used as a library, while the adjacent space is used for watching television. The architects also created two new openings to the hallway, extending the feeling of space in both areas. “Victorian terraces by their very nature are quite dark. We felt it was important to open up these spaces while not impinging on the home’s original features,” says Harding, pointing out the wide skirting boards, original ceiling rosettes and deep mouldings. Shelving, designed by Ha Architecture and made from steel, American oak and Arabesque marble, add a lighter touch to these rooms than the traditional heavy Victorian timber furniture. 

A significant portion of this renovation can also be seen at the basement level. Previously used as a rumpus room, this formerly cavernous space has been magically transformed into a main bedroom suite. Complete with a generous walk-in wardrobe and ensuite bathroom, this sumptuous bedroom/reading nook is now linked to the courtyard-style garden with its forest of birch trees. “Originally our brief was for an ensuite with a free-standing bath. However, we thought it made more sense, given our clients busy schedule, to have a separate built-in dressing table,” says Harding, caressing the Arabesque marble. As with the shelving for the formal rooms, the walk-in dressing area is customised to the nth degree, with shelves for ties and socks as well as secret compartments. 

While not obvious from the outset, the success of this renovation can be seen in the way spaces have been tied together. The timber floors, as well as the turned timber Victorian balustrade, have been stained in the same charcoal hue. Door furnishings have also been replaced to create ‘one language’. And, where needed, light fittings, such as the contemporary steel fitting, a collaboration between Harding and eminent lighting designer Christopher Boots, has been fashioned. “It’s a relatively large house for a single person but before rooms weren’t used and there was virtually no connection to the garden or the terrace,” says Harding. “On warmer days, the doors are left open and you can smell the salt air coming through,” he adds.

Breakout Boxes
There are no formal rooms in this house. The library, television area and kitchen are now all connected, cleverly delineated by creating new openings. Key to the plan is the strong connection to the outdoors, with the outdoor terrace, including a pizza oven, providing an ideal place for alfresco dining. 

The materials used in the renovation, such as the steel windows and doors, create a slight industrial feel. However, this industrial aesthetic is complemented by sumptuous materials such as Arabesque marble and American oak joinery. “It’s important to create a balance between the rough and the more refined. But at the end of the day, it’s not a precious home. It needs to be lived in,” adds Harding.

Ha Architecture Product & Environment can be contacted on 03 9417 2494. 

Kay & Burton Partner Andrew Sahhar can be contacted on 0417 363 358 or via asahhar@kayburton.com.au

View the property online here. 

A majestic masterpiece in a stunning St Kilda location

Architect Nick Harding of Ha Architecture Product & Environment has transformed this majestic terrace in a tranquil St Kilda street into a modern masterpiece by opening it up to the light and creating a terrific connection with the outdoors.


A pizza oven, vertical garden and built-in seating are standout elements of this urban garden.

The original solid timber staircase goes to a split landing, with the master suite at the front of the house.

Along the way, this captivating home has graced the pages of glossy home magazines, including House & Garden in which this article appeared, and is soon to be featured in a book on design.

The en suite features a frame-less glass shower and twin vanities.

Lifestyle & Design

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