An impulse buy worked out surprisingly well for Melbourne couple Catherine and Matthew back in 2010.
The couple were looking to move on from their little inner-Melbourne terrace, but this Edwardian home didn’t quite meet their picture of an ideal family home. Frustration levels were high as they missed out on yet another house, before the real estate gods finally deigned to smile on them. “This area has a strong heritage and we fell in love with the consistency of all the old Edwardians, and the streets lined with beautiful, established trees,” says Catherine of the suburb in Melbourne’s east.
Catherine and Matthew loved the home’s impeccably preserved facade, but the interior had been previously renovated by people with very different tastes. A refurbishment was always on the cards and the couple dived in, somewhat reluctantly, three years later. “Neither of us have any skills in that area and I wouldn’t say either of us were confident about visualising a finished home,” explains Catherine. “We went in feeling quite daunted.”
The couple brought in Linda Simons from LSA Architects. “They knew what they wanted, but the existing plan was so disjointed, they didn’t know how to get the result,” remembers Linda. Addressing the lack of flow to the outdoors was high on the agenda, as was reclaiming some garden space for their three kids to play in. “This is one of the few renovations where we actually made the rear room smaller,” says Linda.
The slight reduction in the home’s footprint and the removal of a double garage, creating clear lines of sight inside and out and visually expanding the living room to the fence line. The remainder of the renovation to transform the house into a functional, modern family home then fell easily into place.
Half of a second bathroom was sacrificed to make a handy butler’s pantry, while a second formal sitting room was converted into a walk-in robe and ensuite.
“When we altered the layout, it was so much more logical and useable that the space appears larger.”Linda Simons, Architect
Decorating the interiors is a process Catherine has opted to tackle over a period of time. “It’s been a gradual process,” she says. “I’m quite wary of making mistakes!” But, having now successfully transformed this lovely house, has the reluctant renovator been converted to the joys of the process? “It was stressful at times, and I wouldn’t want to be one of those people who does it every three years,” she says. “But yes, I learnt a lot and I could definitely do it again!”
The modern sits easily with the traditional in Matthew and Catherine’s Melbourne home, which has been decorated over time – and with the couple’s three children, Clara, James and Patrick, in mind. Freedom sofas that have survived the baby and toddler years are paired with new pieces such as the ‘Tripod’ coffee table from Dwell in the living room. Even the floor covering – a wool flatweave ‘Subi’ rug from The Rug Collection – was a practical choice. “It’s comfort for my kids, who are often lying on the floor watching TV or doing homework, drawing or doing puzzles at the coffee table,” says Catherine, pictured opposite, with James, left, and Patrick.
Initially, Catherine had some trouble visualising the square island this kitchen needed, yet she and Matthew are thrilled with the result. “There’s a lot of bench space and you can have multiple people in the kitchen doing things at once,” she says. Masses of cabinetry in Dulux White On White 2-pac provide all the storage the family could wish for. The window splashback is now one of the zone’s highlights, as is the butler’s pantry, which is this busy homeowner’s secret weapon: all that is visible from the main kitchen is a set of shelves in a timber-look laminate to echo the real timber veneer in the public spaces. Around the corner hides a second fridge, sink and less-than-chic appliances. “That’s where I have all the plastic lunch boxes, kids’ drink bottles sitting out to dry, the magnets and school notices on the fridge, microwave and those sorts of things,” explains Catherine.
“The kitchen has amazing storage and lots of work space – it’s perfect for all of us to be in, eating, cooking, cleaning, talking”Catherine
“The newer part of the house is Dulux White On White, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing these old, traditional rooms in a strong white,” says Catherine, who decided on Dulux White Duck for the front section. The timber floorboards were in great shape – if a bit too orange for Catherine and Matthew’s taste. “We stripped them back and used a grey stain to tone down the orange,” says Catherine, who has hung a couple of inexpensive prints found on Etsy and two larger pieces from United Interiors to lift the simple palette. A ‘Stephanie’ face vase from Stone and Grain makes a chic addition on the coffee table.
Period details and original leadlight windows are the key features in this bedroom, neatly dressed with linen from Sheridan and Provincial Home Living, and with an upholstered bedhead completing the look of understated luxury. Carpet was a must for Catherine. “I love carpeted bedrooms,” she says. “I’ve had both and I don’t think I could go back to floorboards in a bedroom.” Godfrey Hirst Waffle wool carpet in Fawn has a similar look to this.
The biggest change for the parents’ suite involved converting a small adjoining room into a walk-in robe and ensuite. “After not having an ensuite for a good few years, that was lovely,” says Catherine. Glass mosaic tiles sourced from Signorino above the marble vanity are a point of difference from the look of the main bathroom. A large mirror, running the width of the room, makes the space feel larger.
Catherine splurged on a marble and 2-pac vanity, chosen to match the kitchen, but kept the rest of the fittings in the main bathroom simple and practical. Twin Caroma basins from Reece complete the vanity, while Catherine scouted Melbourne for just the right bath, a Moda ‘Mia’ freestanding model from ACS Designer Bathrooms. Neutral-toned porcelain tiles from National Tiles capture the fresh and clean look the couple desired, while a pendant light from About Space draws the eye upwards.
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