This Carlton terrace was among the first clutch of houses constructed in the heady days of Victoria’s gold rush.
Built in 1861 on one of Melbourne’s first land subdivisions outside the city, Earnbank Terrace is steeped in history.
For Wendy O’Neill and Graeme Shears, it was the ideal place to raise their young family.
The couple updated the house when they commissioned an architect-designed renovation in 2006.
O’Neill says the renovation, completed within tight heritage restrictions by Fiona Dunin at FMD Architects, has accentuated the house’s historic beauty.
“The Victorian features make a fabulous understated backdrop to the new layers,” she says.
“It’s such as warm, friendly house that surprises you on entering.”
But it was O’Neill’s own personal history that drew her family to Carlton.
“I recognised the terrace as soon as I saw if for sale,” she says.
“My sister had lived in one of the nearby terraces as a share house. I liked that connection and I felt I was already familiar with the house, street, and suburb.”
O’Neill says the renovation tastefully marries old and new. It’s quirky features, such as mirrored ceilings, create a big sense of space which also highlights the family’s art collection.
“We like that it’s equal parts drama and fun,” O’Neill says.
“The mirror ceilings, colours, layering and the sense of space, including more intimate rooms that give us family as well as alone spaces.
“With three children aged between 11yrs and 15years, rooms with doors that close, and separate space is great for us all.”
O’Neill says her favourite room is the master bedroom, where the treetop view makes it the perfect place to relax.
“I love the main upstairs bedroom when the afternoon sun streams in and you can’t help but read or have a nana nap on weekends,” she says.
“And the tops of the Plane trees cast playful shadows on the wall at night.”
Another beloved feature of the three-storey house is the view of the surrounding rooftops towards the city.
With its iconic parks – known as “Melbourne’s lungs” – and tree-lined streets, Carlton is a haven from the CBD’s hustle and bustle.
It’s also a sought-after spot on the Melbourne real estate map. The median house price is $948,000, according to Australian Property Monitors.
Despite only being 2km from the city, O’Neill says the suburb’s community spirit is alive and well.
“We have made new connections with neighbours and others living and working locally,” she says.
“We’d never experienced such a feel of community. We know shopkeepers by name and there’s fabulous food galore.
“It’s a simple life – we walk everywhere, the kids walk or bike to schools, and we tram.
“We feel like we’re part of something special.”