McPhail House: Blending Heritage with Modern Design

McPhail House, a stunning extension in Essendon, Melbourne by Design by AD, beautifully integrates a classic cottage’s heritage with contemporary elements. Maintaining the neighborhood’s charm, this modern addition enhances the property with light-filled, open spaces. The design skillfully balances old and new using consistent materials and tones.

Enhanced by KPLA’s landscape design and constructed by Align Concepts, McPhail House stands as a symbol of timeless, sophisticated design.

A modern, triangular black structure nestled between traditional buildings.

Modern living room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a garden.


Modern home office nook with wood paneling, built-in desk, and large

Modern kitchen with wooden cabinets, island with stools, and a view of greenery

Modern kitchen with wooden island and dining area overlooking a garden.


Modern bedroom with built-in shelves, artwork, and a study area.

Modern bathroom with a large mirror and floating wooden vanity.

Modern bathroom with a freestanding tub, skylight, and minimalist vanity

Modern patio with fireplace, lounge chairs, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Modern patio with green chairs, fireplace, and lush garden.

About McPhail House

A Seamless Extension of Heritage and Modernity

McPhail House introduces a subtle, yet impactful extension to a heritage cottage. Drawing from the home’s rich history, the materials and silhouette blend tradition with a contemporary touch. The design thoughtfully preserves the streetscape, integrating with the row houses while standing out with its recessive, blackened addition.

Innovative Use of Space

In Essendon, McPhail House transforms the original single-level weatherboard cottage, expanding the usable space significantly. The design utilizes the roof’s slope, extending the structure to maximize the site’s potential. This crafted approach unites old and new, using consistent materials and tones.

Contemporary Interiors and Natural Connections

Contemporary details and handmade elements mark the addition. Large openings and glasswork forge a connection between the interior and the surrounding landscape. With KPLA’s landscape design and construction by Align Concepts, McPhail House strikes a balance between subtlety and impact.

Heart of the Home: Living, Dining, and Kitchen

The preserved front rooms offer a retreat, maintaining their original scale. Meanwhile, the new, open living, dining, and kitchen area becomes the home’s focal point. This shared space, positioned at the rear, fosters connection and separation from the street. The interior’s palette repurposes the original weatherboard, blending timber, polished concrete, and a monochromatic base for timeless balance.

Photography by Tatjana Plitt

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– by Matt Watts