Architecture + Interior Design

Northcote One :: Heartly Design

Northcote One :: Heartly Design
Northcote One :: Heartly Design
Northcote One :: Heartly Design

By Kate Cole

Mikayla Rose, director of Heartly, received the brief to make a contemporary family home that utilised its limited space in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote.

Mikayla says she wanted to retain the character of the original building but open it up to bring in light and accommodate modern conveniences, like the clever vertical storage space for bicycles. Mikayla’s original intention was to keep the façade and first two rooms of the house, but they were so dilapidated that the house was gutted. The only original detail retained was the hallway’s fretwork.


The house now includes three bedrooms and a combined open-plan kitchen and living area. “It was certainly a collaborative process”, says Mikayla, “with the client heavily involved on the design and research and the builder also helping with solutions”. The homeowner contributed to many details, such as designing the pegboard storage system used in the hallway storage room.



Based in Hawthorn, Heartly is run by director Mikayla, studio manager Anna Higgs and interior designer Talia Stoch. The team worked together with the homeowner to create key features such as the lightwell on the Southern boundary, which connects the home to the outdoors and provides strategic light to the study under the stairs.

The Heartly team selected a pallet of oak, marble, concrete and black steel which was used throughout the original front of the home and the contemporary addition at the rear. The textured wool carpet by Hycraft softens the otherwise hard pallet. Feature details were added such as the textured grain of the American oak veneer, still visible through the black paint on the feature joinery panels. The team selected a sharply contrasting pallet of black and white for the exterior, to create a sense of layering.

They paid particular attention to the craftsmanship of the kitchen. “That oak pivot door had to be millimetre perfect, flush to the marble. Luckily the owner, the builder and I were all on the same page and were equally as committed to make something special”.



“It’s hard to describe without sounding wishy washy”, says Mikayla, “but it’s one of those buildings where you just immediately feel good when you step inside. That didn’t come about by accident though, there are multiple, quite strategic elements that were combined to create it”.

Many of these elements are immediately evident in the entry, such as the store room and its wall-hung feature door in the hall, the original fretwork, the pale oak floorboards, the staircase and its wall to wall skylight that lifts the viewer’s eye, and the study under the stairs lit by the light-well opposite.

“I feel very fortunate to be doing something that I absolutely love and am passionate about every day”, says Mikayla. “The thrill I get when I see the spark in the eye of a client because they can suddenly picture for themselves what we’ve designed makes all the challenges of running a business so worth it. We often become very close to our clients”.




Build by Ben Thomas.

Photography by Derek Swalwell.