Munnering Ln House

Munnering Ln House

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This heritage-listed warehouse in Melbourne’s Princes Hill still retains its hallmarks.

Once home to John Lawson Furniture, downstairs entailed furniture making, while upstairs the timber was treated.

The history of this 1889 building can still be seen in the slightly faded letters of the proprietor’s name across a rear brick wall.

For the owners, Mark, a photographer, and his wife Sal, a screenwriter, this warehouse provided an opportunity to scale down from a family home.

“We wanted to retain the industrial aesthetic, but we also wanted a comfortable home, and importantly a separate studio for Sal. I also thought there was an opportunity to display my photography,” says Mark.

Fronting a laneway, and on a relatively modest 180 m2 lot, the two-storey, triple-brick warehouse had been renovated in the 1980s.

A past adaption included a white laminate kitchen and rudimentary partition loosely dividing the open-plan spaces.

The couple engaged McIIdowie Partners, working closely with Director, architect Craig Brown, architect Laura Binazzi and interior designer, Emma Ross-Edwards, both associates of the practice.

The warehouse still appears intact.

However, what was once a carriageway to the side of the building, used to deliver furniture is now enclosed.

This space is now used as a gallery to display Mark’s photography, captured on his travels to India, East Africa, Vietnam, and the South Pacific.

While Mark’s photography is immersive upon arrival, so too is the ‘tapestry’ of wall-to-wall books seen in Sal’s studio, a detached concrete structure with floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors, in the back terrace.

“We wanted to create a solid structure for the study in response to the original building’s thick brick walls,” says Brown, also pointing out the massive concrete beam that frames the entire width of the studio and doubles as a planter box.

McIIdowie Partners also touched every surface of the warehouse.

Their design reconfigured the ground floor to include two bedrooms, each with ensuites.

The first floor accommodates an open-plan kitchen, together with dining and living areas and a large terrace leading from the kitchen that features a built-in barbeque and pizza oven.

Original brick walls have been left exposed.

“We wanted to retain as much of the original fabric as possible, giving it that industrial aesthetic,” says Ross-Edwards, pointing out the chunky timber trusses that traverse the first floor.

The new kitchen also has a rich and slightly worn patina with what was originally a carpenter’s bench, featuring marks still bearing its many years of use.

The bench, which belonged to Mark, has been carefully ‘stitched’ together with a new marble bench and refitted with a sink and mixer tap.

And to complement these touches are industrial pendant lights and strategically placed spotlights in the rafters that accentuate the past.

Given the warehouse is triple brick, few if any cracks were found during the renovation.

However, some of the timber window frames had rotted and were replaced.

Some of the new steel windows took their design cue from those being replaced, while others, such as the steel-framed doors to the garden, strengthen the connection between the indoors and out.

The black-stained timber storage unit directly below the terrace conceals the couple’s bikes and an outdoor shower is a testimony to their love of the outdoors, which are also beautifully captured in Mark’s landscape images.

While some may have endeavoured to create a sleek urban pad on the edge of town for a couple of empty nesters, for both the owners and their architects the impetus for this renovation was to create things as simple as possible, allowing the history of this warehouse to be ‘read’ and clearly understood.

“We didn’t want this place to be overdesigned. Part of the pleasure is imagining how the furniture once arrived and seeing where it was finished. And given our children occasionally come to stay, there was the opportunity to make the spaces permeable,” adds Mark.

Project Details

Site Area – 180m2

Project Team


McIldowie Partners

McIldowie Partners is a Melbourne-based, medium-sized architectural and interior design practice with extensive history and experience in a wide range of education, hospitality, corporate, and commercial projects.

They have a commitment to developing innovative, unique solutions for individual clients and projects which has resulted in creating a diverse body of work across multiple sectors in communities throughout Australia and New Zealand.


Mark Chew

Originally from England, Mark moved to Australia in 1985 after an apprenticeship in London with some of the leading advertising photographers of the time.

Since then his work has taken him all over the world with assignments in places such as India, Kenya, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Laos, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.

Photo Gallery

Click on a thumbnail image to enlarge.

Design © 2022 McIldowie Partners. All Rights Reserved.| Images © 2022 Mark Chew. All Rights Reserved.

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