Kate's House
Melbourne, Australia
“Living here has brought sanity and serenity into our lives,” says homeowner Kate Cowen, who engaged Bower Architecture to renovate the 1960s’ modernist house.
Bower Architecture
Shannon McGrath
Bower KatesHouse ©smg 8116 Fotor

Take a Closer Look

After falling in love with a home designed by the Melbourne architecture firm, Kate was keen to collaborate with the design team and began the search for the ideal property.Seeing the potential of a home in St Kilda East, it was the mutual appreciation for good design that gave Kate the confidence Bower Architecture could help realise her vision of creating a “home for living in”, all the while remaining true to the 1960s era. Co-director Jade Vidal felt the respect for the value of the design process was there from the beginning – an encouraging sign that the project was off to a good start.

"Given the abundance of artwork, sculpture and stuff of everyday family life on display in the house, the material palette is deliberately restrained."
Jade Vidal

Bower KatesHouse ©smg 8226 NEW
Maintaining the single storey footprint was a deliberate decision in respect of the modernist design aesthetic and for future manageability. Kate wanted the home to be formed into zones, receptive to the way her family lived. Moving away from open plan living, rooms were divided into voids and galleries to maximise light and space.
Bower KatesHouse ©smg 195106 43

It’s the “compression and expansion that allows the house to breath,” explains Jade.The relationship between the architecture and the landscape was important to the home’s overall design aesthetic; a key focus of Jade’s practice. He explains: “We believe good architecture will always integrate built form with landscape, and as such the design of both benefits the architecture and landscape when developed together.”


The entry of the home was finished in Lagano; a stone landscape designer Pascale Drever, of Cielo Design, chose for its elegant tones and marbled detail. With no delineation between interior and exterior materials, the stone continues inside, beyond an enormous glazed wall and through to the main entry courtyard. Here stands a mature Queensland Bottle Tree which Pascale says was “specially chosen for its rare and unique sculptural form; a philosophy that continues throughout the interior of Kate’s remarkable home”.Kate says: “The design and materials have their own integrity – but they’re not prescriptive…the house works. Aside from allowing us to live in a state of peaceful co-existence, it has delivered all the elements I wanted. There are no stunts, nothing phony or contrived.”

Signature Timber NEW 1

Signature Element

Blackbutt timber was integrated throughout the entire property from the exterior screening in the front garden to the feature wall panelling by the pool. The natural texture and tones add warmth to the neutral colour palette and by using the timber to finish the interior ceilings, Bower Architecture have referenced the modernist era.

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