A modest 1930s facade in Melbourne's inner city suburb Northcote conceals a breathtaking contemporary design.

Past the front door, only a couple of the original front rooms remain; one used for a study, the other a guest bedroom. 'The house fits in with the period streetscape. You’re not really aware of what’s going on behind the timber facade,' says architect Feras Raffoul, director of FGR Architects. 'Our clients had become attached to the period home, even though it had its shortcomings,' he adds.

FGR Architects virtually created an entirely new house behind the period facade. The contemporary ‘addition’ includes generous glazing at both the ground and first floors to take advantage of the garden aspect and generous light. Pivotal to the design is a lap pool and the double height canopy that soars to 6.5 m in height. Complete with an open fireplace, this innovative white concrete wall not only creates shelter, but also doubles as a projection screen (a video unit is concealed in the overhang outside the kitchen). 'Having the generous canopy also allows you to borrow views into a neighbouring garden,' says Raffoul, who was conscious of wanting to create a sense of space within the 500 sq m site.

Take an interactive tour of Northcote House, Australia

While the house is predominantly rectilinear in form, the liquid-like staircase at the front of the house separate the past from the present. 'The staircase softens the geometric lines as well providing an unexpected moment when you first enter the home,' says Raffoul.

Raffoul used the swimming pool as a means to delineate spaces at ground level. On one side of the swimming pool is the lounge, while on the other is the open plan kitchen and dining area. However, wherever one stands, there are unimpeded sight lines to the garden and swimming pool. In fact, there are few homes designed by FGR Architects that don’t feature a swimming pool. 'I love the way water animates an interior, with sunlight reflecting on the ceilings,' says Raffoul.

The first floor also features generous floor-to-ceiling glazing. Featuring a main bedroom, walk-in dressing area and lavish ensuite bathroom that takes advantage of the leafy neighbourhood, there’s a sense of residing in a five-star hotel. And while the owners don’t presently have children, when they do eventually arrive, there’s more than sufficient bedrooms for them to chose from, each one enjoying the same quality light and outlook as the couple presently does.