Kitchen of the Week: A Laid-Back Courtyard Kitchen Where ‘Family Life Unfolds’

It’s common for clients to create a wish list for their architect before a project starts. An open kitchen, ample storage, sustainable design, a native garden—these were all on the project brief that architect Zoe Geyer, of ZGA Studio, received a few years ago from her clients, a young couple looking to build a new addition to an already existing home in Hampton, Australia, just outside Melbourne. Not so common? Their request for a backyard racetrack.

But given that these clients were a young couple with three boys, all under the age of 8, the wish was entirely understandable. It also spoke to their desire for a fun, casual space, “a home where the kids could drag the outside inside and always have sticky fingers,” says Geyer. “The house was to be as relaxed as a beach house but flexible for many different uses and stages of family life.”

Ultimately, the couple “opted out of the racetrack,” she reports. “But it would have been brilliant.” No matter. She fulfilled every other wish on their list—including a hardworking kitchen that’s the beating heart of their home.

Come along for a tour of the modern new addition she designed for an outdoors-loving family.

Photography by Tatjana Plitt.

ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: “The kitchen was a focus of the design, as this family is passionate about food and coming together to prepare and share meals. The kitchen and living areas flow into one space, with a large island and stools providing an area for the family to casually interact,” says Geyer.
ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: The cabinets are made from lime-washed blackbutt timber; the countertops from Maximum “Venus’ reconstituted porcelain. Recycled bricks were sourced for the wall: “It is deliberately textured to reflect the heavily textured walls of the existing Spanish Mission house, as well as to add a ‘non-precious’ element to the new addition,” explains Geyer. Sourcing sustainable materials was a priority for the clients, both of whom have an environmental background.
ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: “The arched window in the kitchen looks out onto a beautiful large gum tree on a neighboring site, to complete the sense of connection to the landscape,” says the architect. “This arched window also references an original arched window in the existing house.” The black faucet is by Astra Walker, the round sconce by Euroluce, and the “Amano Walls” tiles from Academy Tile.
ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: The view from the kitchen toward the dining room. The ceiling and upper part of the walls feature fiber-cement panels, hand-painted to look like cement. In the kitchen, the panels conceal extra storage. “The kitchen was designed to provide a framework for the clutter of everyday life. High cupboards in the kitchen and living areas provide storage space for skis, Christmas decorations, and the other paraphernalia of family life,” says Geyer.
ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: The view from the dining room into the kitchen. A sliding door between the two spaces provides “the option to separate the spaces if the boys need a quiet homework zone in the dining area while dinner is being cooked or the other children are playing in the living area,” says Geyer.
ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: A den is just off the kitchen. The only air conditioning in the home is in the kitchen; on hot nights, the couple closes the sliding door and camps out in the den with the kids. Two Muuto ‘Fluid’ pendant lights float above an antique dining set that the clients already had. “It was refreshing to work with a family that loves recycled and pre-owned furniture, with a deliberately humble approach to living.”
ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: The step up from the library (in the forefront) signifies the transition from the old house to the new addition. A light-filled passageway looks out onto an interior courtyard deck. “The design creates two key zones within the house: the original house as a quiet zone and retreat; the addition and garden beyond as somewhere for family life to unfold,” says Geyer.
ZGA Studio Hampton House Kitchen Australia Photograph by Tatjana Plitt Above: “This is a light-filled house where you are never remote from the ‘natural world’ beyond,” says Geyer. The outdoors can be accessed from multiple rooms in the home. Here, two of the couple’s kids play in yard just outside the kitchen, where there’s an outdoor shower.

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