Why I Love Heritage Homes



Federation style homes were the predominant architectural style in Australia around 1890 to 1951, especially in and around Essendon. Respectfully renovated and updated modern Federation homes have seen this area, and this architectural style, retain design cred by honouring the traditional details that make them unique, while increasing their liveability and desirability.



Growing up in Essendon area in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I would never have imagined that the humble Federation house would become one of Australia’s most famed and sought-after styles.

Back then, in the height of the 1980s, an age of excess, modern mansions were all the rage and many old and tired humble federation homes on decent sized blocks were bulldozed to make way for big and flashy statement homes. It was a time when wealth and affluence became socially acceptable, intensely desirable and even admirable.

Thanks to popular culture in the early 80s (think Scarface and Miami Vice, prime-time soap operas Dallas and Bold and The Beautiful), people wanted everything new and shiny. Unlike the old homes, the new housing wish list included connecting garages for the fancy sports cars, spa baths, impressive glass atrium entrances with an opulent feature light, grand staircase, ensuites, spa baths and of course, wall to floor built in mirrored robes (to house the designer clothes, shoes and big statement accessories!). Like everything, these homes came in and out of fashion.

In the mid to late 1980s, many stately Essendon heritage homes were sympathetically renovated and upgraded to include all the mod-cons and of course a resort style swimming pool, cabana and tennis court if space allowed. These stately refurbished homes became the new sought-after status symbol. This trend then caught on to the popularisation of older style smaller homes and spending money to renovate, rather than rebuilding or buying a more expensive newer more modern home.

Reinvention is a constant in the world of design and renovating an Australian period house provides a unique opportunity to bring an historic home, filled with character and charm, into the 21st century.

Whilst I am certainly not against development, I am passionate about the retention and restoration of heritage homes in this area and love to see modern makeovers or elegant restorations transform these unique homes into something that will be enjoyed for centuries more. The only thing that excites me more than the oohs and ahhs of exploring the original design elements of a heritage home, is seeing them lovingly restored and showcased in a contemporary way.

Moonee Valley City Council thankfully offers protection of heritage homes in the area through the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme through the application of the Heritage Overlay.

If you think this Heritage Overlay is problematic, think again, it ultimately adds value to your unique and much sought-after property!