We love our Garden House project and are so happy to see it featured on The Design Files.

Maike Design are a Melbourne design studio who’ve gained a reputation for their clever approach to heritage home renovations, creating bright and functional spaces completely tailored to each individual site.

Their latest project, Garden House, showcases this very approach, comprising a sympathetic renovation of a brick California bungalow, alongside a new north-facing pavilion. The original house has been reworked to create calm and enclosed private spaces, while the pavilion is as much a part of the garden as it is the house.

Garden House is a bright and breezy transformation of a previously dark and inward facing brick bungalow in Malvern East, Victoria, by Maike Design, and overseen by Bancroft and Malone Architects.

The brief provided was to accommodate the growing family’s needs, including the provision of spaces for working from home at odd hours.

‘It was a clean and neat little house, but it needed repairs, and it didn’t functionally meet any of the client’s requirements,’ says Mairead Murphy, director of Maike Design, of the house pre-renovation.

‘The two almost teen girls were sharing a room (which was definitely starting to wear thin!), the house had almost no storage, it was very cold and damp. and gave next to no connection to the enormous backyard.’

In response, the designers replanned the existing house to feature quiet spaces catering to the ‘inwards facing parts of life’ (three bedrooms, a bathroom, en suite, laundry and lounge), capitalising on the original building’s inherent solidity and calm.

‘We focused on how the existing spaces could be replanned, using just a few deliberate and considered new openings and small alterations,’ says Mairead.

The most significant update was the opening of the original house rear to the garden designed by Amanda Oliver Gardens, achieved by demolishing the pantry, laundry, and storeroom.

An adjoining extension was meanwhile added, turning 90 degrees to the original house towards the northern sunlight. Spaces are lined up along the length of a nine-metre long glazed wall, directly connecting each room to the garden.

‘The design has been detailed to distort the line where the house ends and the garden begins,’ says Mairead. ‘The subtle qualities of the materials shift and change as the light changes outside, just like the garden does.’” 

See it here.

Maike Design garden connection. Kitchen and Dining room. White bricks and black frame

Thrilled to see Next Door House 2 featured on The Design Files.

Interior Designer Mairead Murphy is passionate about saving Melbourne’s post-war weatherboard homes, recognising them as an important part of the city’s historic fabric.

The director of Maike Design first bought one of these houses in Brunswick East in 2014, going on to complete a self-designed full renovation, within the original footprint.

When a similar house came up for sale next door, Mairead and her partner embarked on another renovation – only this time it wasn’t so easy! Despite several unforeseen issues, the designer successfully reworked this second home quickly and efficiently. It’s now a clever, compact home for her family of four, with some lovely new neighbours next door!

Director of Maike Design Mairead Murphy recognises post-war ‘austerity houses’ as an unappreciated element of Melbourne’s architectural history. ‘These post-war houses are modest and small, but they were the backdrop to a period of such optimism and change in Melbourne’s history,’ she says. ‘I think if you understand their historical context it is hard not to see their charm.’

Keen to retain this history, the designer and her partner bought a 1940s Brunswick East home in 2014, which they slowly renovated over several years.

When the very dilapidated house next door came up for sale, the couple decided to save another post-war weatherboard from likely demolition. ‘The house was built at the same time as ours, was around the same floor area, and had many of the same issues,’ recalls Mairead. ‘It was obviously rundown, but having fixed up one, we figured we roughly knew what we were in for. We had been putting money aside to finish our home and calculated that we had just enough for the deposit and a nice, but modest renovation.’

Unfortunately, this second renovation ended up being far less straightforward. Mairead describes the condition of the house as ‘honestly terrible’, with every update uncovering more issues than initially expected. For example, although both houses were clad in vinyl weatherboards, the first house has well preserved timber underneath. ‘In house two there were just large sections of wall with no weatherboards at all!’ Mairead says. ‘House one we re-stumped and re-levelled, lifting it around 15cm in sections. In house two, there weren’t even any proper footings, just shallow trenches filled with concrete and old pieces of plumbing pipe, so we lifted the back of it 70cm!’” 

See it here.

Maike Design dark teal bedroom opening onto private courtyard. Linen sheets and artwork.

“ We wanted to send you a note to say how much we are enjoying our renovated home.  Having been back in now for three months, I’m of the opinion that the feeling of being “home” will never get old here!  During the nine-month build and the design period leading up to the actual construction, we all found the Maike Design process an absolute pleasure.  Your willingness to engage with everyone including the kids and consideration of Murray the dog has resulted in a home that is functioning like a dream.  Aesthetically your suggested finishes and fixtures were always considered and refined and the result is one that ties the period portion of the home to the modern extension in a way that is respectful and consistent without giving a uniform or bland feel

– there are little features that make each one of us happy when we experience them on a daily basis.

The lighting in the new extension is a particular favourite with the right amount of light to do functional things like read the paper at the table and cook on the bench, but once everyone retires to the lounge, we are able to dim and re-direct the lighting to enjoy the soft glow of the large Akari light.

We really enjoyed the process and found during the concept design, that you did a great job of presenting all sides of the idea so we could make a truly informed decision.  Some of our early ideas were blatantly unworkable or wasted precious space, so your knowledge and wisdom came to the fore in many ways.  It was particularly enjoyable to head into the detailed design phase and receive your beautiful renders which were such a great communication tool for us and everyone around us with whom we shared the journey – everything turned out as we expected.   I think the only times I felt out of my depth with drawings or design was more related to scale – it was difficult to picture how the spaces would feel until they started to be built and even then, it was still hard to “feel” the spaces.  I don’t think that was a fault of the communication at all, but just a tricky thing for anyone to grasp when it comes to their own spaces.

Given we were reasonably time-poor, it was great to have you understand what we were wanting in terms of finishes, and come to us with beautiful and considered options for each decision.  We appreciated being involved in the selection/refinement process and when provided with two or three choices, in most cases would have been happy with any of the options presented as they were all so close to the brief – usually with an elegant twist for us to consider which made the entire build very cohesive with individual touches.  We receive tonnes of compliments about the feel and the aesthetics as soon as people enter, but to live in our home is to truly experience the thoughtfulness and purposeful design you’ve delivered.

During the contract negotiations with our builder including the finance process we really relied on your wisdom and experience. To say that we would have struggled through this phase without your involvement is a huge understatement.

We would definitely recommend you and work with you again.  Tilly has been really inspired and found it “really cool” to be involved and see you work – she’s considering architecture, interior design, or graphic design for a career (at this early stage…).  Both girls love their bedrooms and their deck which is becoming a place that play spills out to when the floor is completely filled with a complicated lego or playmobil setup.  My personal favourite touches are the period elements that you were able to integrate, such as the recycled bricks for lovely texture in the extension, to the shed door and old window which we look onto fondly, now part of the garage.

I’m sure Sam has additional notes he’d like to add personally, so stay tuned for his thoughts too.  My overall summation would be that you absolutely nailed the brief and delivered in a way that suited us completely.

Many thanks for absolutely everything!  “


Our stunning heritage Californian Bungalow, Garden House has been featured in the December issue of Real Living magazine.

“A new addition to this Melbourne heritage home marries the old and new by celebrating tactile textures, raw materials and a strong connection to the great outdoors.”

Design Drawing

Drawing is a key component of our creative design process.  It’s no secret that I have a personal bias towards hand drawing and genuine admiration for people who can (seemingly) effortlessly produce emotive and beautiful design sketches.  In a world full of beautiful renders and digital documentation, its value can sometimes be overlooked. Every designer uses drawings differently, but I don’t think you will find one who simply does not use it at all.

Drawing is more than a means of representation – it is a way to think as well as to communicate.

The process of drawing can be a direct connection to your thought process. Lines follow on from previous lines, they move and shift as the ideas form.  It is a tool for thought, creativity and problem solving.  Pencil lines on paper can capture idiosyncrasies, movement and character without being anywhere close to a fully developed design.  It is an essential way to explore the sense of a building before the shape of the space has been determined.

The point of sketching isn’t to produce the final image on a piece of paper.  It is a process of observing, creating, and exploring.  One of sifting ideas through a process of expression, evaluation, correction, and re-evaluation.  Sketching to develop a design can merge visible physical characteristics of a space with the more ambiguous perceived and sensory feedback.

“Drawing is a process of observation and expression, receiving and giving, at the same time.”
Juhani Pallasma, The Thinking Hand

Clients are often unaware of the volume of drawings produced during the design process.  This mountain of pages are not all clear or legible.  They can be sketchy and scratchy, drawn over and over while working through an idea.  They overlap one another, often including notes and arrows to show circulation, views, sun, air, and sound.  Through repetition and exploration these design gestures begin to solidify and become ready to be transferred to the finite and precise medium of digital representation.  They are the drafts that gather thoughts in progress, not a finalised idea that will be presented.

Although the early design drawings are one of my favourite stages in any design project, as well as a tool for developing conceptual ideas, we use drawing in different ways throughout the design process:

Site analysis and recording existing conditions:

Diagrams and sketches are a great way of capturing information on site.  They can be overlayed to see how all aspects of a site interact.

Space planning:

Using loose area sketches or bubble diagrams can explore how different areas of use, spatial relationships and occupation sit together.  A space planning sketch is an illustration of design attributes rather than of form and can quickly show areas that are successful or unsuccessful when laying out areas.

Details on the go:

Even on site we use drawings to communicate and discuss details.  It is a succinct way to problem solve and make sure that everyone clearly understands the solution.


By no means am I minimising the value of digital techniques as a communication tool or underestimating the huge gains in efficiency and precision that computer generated design tools have provided. There is a place for both in a robust and thorough process.  A design needs to be allowed to move through its vague and creative stage before it is ready for digital evaluation and production.

…But I will always love a beautiful hand drawn design sketch.

We loved putting together these rooms for our little ones.

” With an adventurous boy fascinated with rockets and space, she set out to paint a mural in his bedroom that wasn’t strongly gendered and wasn’t boring.

The result is a room that has easily transitioned from a nursery into a more grown up bedroom with a nifty bunk bed. When Mairead’s second-born came along, her spare time was taken up by painting another stunning mural for her daughter, Kira.

Today we are sharing both of these beautiful rooms and the updates she has made along the way. …” 

See it here.

Maike Design nursery with hand made mobile and hand painted mural

Thrilled to see Meow House featured on The Design Files.

” Providing for the client’s two cats was just as important as the human family members in this home renovation – hence the project’s name, Meow House!

Taking into account these feline needs, along with the owner’s work schedule, Maike Design reimagined the existing 1960s Melbourne house, without expanding its original footprint. 

What may have been demolished by some is now a generous home perfectly tailored to its occupants, proving the vast potential of these solid brick homes…” 

See it here.

Maike Design kitchen and dining room. Open timber shelves, indoor plants, brass pendant light, teracotta tiles, timber floors.