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How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven

The living room will blow your mind
How this 1980s home became a contemporary havenDerek Swalwell

This reimagined home in bayside Melbourne is the realisation of a long-held dream.

Time and time again, a 14-year-old Tina would find herself walking past one of the most distinctive homes in the neighbourhood, imagining the world of inspired surprises that surely lay beyond its front door. Perched on the southernmost tip of one of Melbourne’s prettiest waterfront precincts, the multi-level concrete property with its sharp angles and curved glass walls left an indelible impression on the young high school student. “I grew up a few streets away, so I used to come down and sketch the home,” recalls Tina. “It just seemed so different to all other homes in the area.”

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
Designed by Tina, the front door is European Oak stained in Resene Sheer Black (Credit: Derek Swalwell)

The dream

As the decades came and went, Tina became a renowned building designer who continued to call the suburb home. Yet, she was never able to stop thinking about the area’s iconic abode – built in the early 1980s, but well ahead of its time.

Three years ago, the property finally came onto the market. But sadly, it wasn’t to be for Tina and her husband Lee. “We did try to buy it at the auction, but ended up being the underbidders on the day,” says Lee. “It was just out of our reach.”

“That was the first time I saw the home internally; it was quite different to how I’d imagined it,” adds Tina. “There was a sunken lounge on the ground level and tiled floors upstairs, but there was so much I loved about it. It’s such a solid house.”

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
(Credit: Derek Swalwell)

The sting

Two years later, the home was once again calling for new owners. Almost on a whim, Tina and Lee decided to attend the auction. This time, fate was on their side. “It was very spontaneous,” says Tina.

“We were going for a drive and came to the auction on the way. We didn’t have any plans. But I’m a pretty motivated person and thought, ‘If we don’t do it now, we’ll never get it. We have to make it happen!’” Lee was impressed by her tenacity. “Tina suddenly said, ‘I’m not missing out again’ when we arrived here, so she put in the first bid and knocked everyone out,” he recalls. “It was amazing.”

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
Statement-making ‘Super Grey’ marble from Signorino Tile Gallery encases the fireplace surround (Credit: Derek Swalwell)

The works

Finally, Tina could call her dream home their own. Then, it was time to transform it into her ultimate vision of style and functionality. She redesigned the galley-style kitchen, along with the lush alfresco domain, which now features a wall of breeze blocks. On the upper level, what was once a home office is today a beautiful bar and entertaining area. Expansive full-height glazing now lets the sea and sunshine into the home, with views of the stunning natural setting rightfully claiming centre stage in the living zones.

“I always thought I would love to live in this house, and I was right.”

Tina, Homeowner

Tina decided to keep key organic materials such as concrete, marble and American oak uniform throughout, with additional warmth, colour and texture delivered through walls of ebony cabinetry, beautiful furnishings and treasured artworks. “This is now the home’s second major transformation,” she says. “I hope we’ve done it justice.” Certainly, she has no regrets.

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
Lining the splashback of the kitchen, textured Prima Materia ‘Cenere Mosaici’ tiles from Disegno Casa contribute an organic feel (Credit: Derek Swalwell)

The detail

As practical as they are beautiful, the full-height floaty sheer drapes – custom-made in Silent Gliss ‘Colorama 2’ fabric – imbue the open-plan core living zone with a cocooning sense of softness, while still providing relief when the temperature rises. “The white drapes work well with the house,” says Tina.

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
Connected to the island, a cantilevered table, surrounded by Billiani ‘Doll’ chairs, is ideal for casual meals (Credit: Derek Swalwell)

Lounge room

Tina transformed the upstairs study into a moody lounge complete with a beautiful bar. “It’s now an intimate area with a relaxed feel,” she says.

An eye-catching pair of ‘Bella’ pendants in Beech from ECC Lighting + Furniture, the Noguchi-inspired coffee table and trio of sculptural easy chairs from Matt Blatt complete the sophisticated scene.

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
A wall of Evenex veneer in Black Caviar from Elton Group creates a chic backdrop for the striking custom-made oak dowel wine rack (Credit: Derek Swalwell)

Main bedroom

Trends come and go, but one shade Tina will forever be partial to is blue. A metallic pendant light from Papaya provide contrast. 

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
Bedroom walls swathed in Dulux Sharp Blue provide instant immersion in the watery tone (Credit: Derek Swalwell)

The ‘Charlotte Velvet’ chair from The Rug Collection, scatter cushions across the bed and floor cushions (a resting spot for Coco the cavoodle) upholstered in Warwick Fabrics, keep the palette consistent. The Globe West ‘Industria Uovo’ glass and metal side table displays a sculpture Tina found while travelling in Indonesia.

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
Carved timber whitewashed panels from Papaya (Credit: Derek Swalwell)

Family bathroom

Luxe finishes and an oversized freestanding tub (find similar with the Reece ‘Kado Arc’ freestanding bath) add up to pampering heaven in the family bathroom. A feature wall of mosaic white penny round tiles brings an element of interest to the all-white space, as does the patterned bath towel and timber stool from Globe West.

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
(Credit: Derek Swalwell)
How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
(Credit: Derek Swalwell)

During the warmer months, the sun-kissed pool zone is the place to lounge and linger

How this 1980s home became a contemporary haven
(Credit: Derek Swalwell)

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