Nicole’s home stands on the former site of one of Melbourne’s historic portable iron houses from the gold rush era. These nineteenth-century prefabricated builds were crafted in the UK, then dismantled and shipped to Australia with a set of instructions and labelled components. The original iron building was moved to a museum for preservation in 2019, leaving a clear block of land that presented Nicole and her husband Ben, a commercial builder, with the perfect opportunity to build a brand new home.
The couple explain that they had both been searching for a heritage gem to renovate, but when they stumbled across this rare block of land, designing a new build came to light. “We wanted to create a home that would last hundreds of years – not another knockdown-style build,” Nicole Chapman says. The new home is a contemporary iteration of the former iron house, utilising hardwearing materials of brick, steel and Iron Ash cladding. This simple and relaxed palette also continues inside the home, filled with family heirlooms and nods to Nicole’s childhood in rural Victoria.