The project is in Toorak in Melbourne, it’s a suburb of generous houses, of generous landscape, of generous space. The site originally contained a duplex, it was 40 or 50 years old and well past its use by date. The brief for the project centred around the creation of a generous family home and really capitalising on the spectacular views of the city. The form of the building was driven by a desire to create a strong street presence and that led us to create two separate forms.
To really craft the proportions of the forms there’s a rhythm to the movement through the house. Through the gatehouse one enters a private garden and then due to the importance of the view, we wanted to give that feeling of stepping up to a lookout, so we purposefully raised the ground floor above. Your eye is then drawn through a corridor past the staircase in the kitchen, out to a terrace, an infinity edge swimming pool, and then across to the view. You would have no idea when entering the front of the house what to expect as you walk through the doors.
I like to design homes based on how I like to live my life, not only is this home great for entertaining and it’s really special to have people over, it is also wonderful for my family and I. This house has been designed as an upside down house where the bedrooms are actually below the living area which creates a calmness looking outside to greenery. I like to go with a natural colour palette to really draw your eye to the outlook and the view, and works very well with the European feel that I wanted for this project.
There’s a two-story fall across the site and so within that the house is actually four stories in height; basement level, bedroom level, main living level and then another entertaining and study area on the top floor. Given the house is four stories, it gave us a really great opportunity to add a spectacular staircase. And also the opportunity to use it for the practical function of drawing light from a skylight at the top right down through the centre of the house.
The polished plaster on the balustrade and the walls around the stair really enhanced and add a glisten and reflection to the light as it moves down through the stairs. The material palette is purposefully pared back, our architecture is always about restraint and clarity. We’re really interested in the aspects of architecture that have been around for thousands of years. The natural result of that was using stone. We really wanted a stone where we could fine tune the colours between warm and cold, and from our past experience with Artedomus, we knew that they could deliver on this. The design brief came about for this project when Lauren contacted us along with Paul looking for a feature stone for the whole house; the facade, the interior, and that’s where we started looking at different options and selections.
The main stone, that’s Grigio Orsola, we supply in lots of different finishes, this house has been done in a custom finish of acid-etch so you know it’s got that beautiful leathery texture and when you etch it it really showcases that beautiful colour throughout it. We wanted the front facade to have a warmth, so we were able to work with Artedomus to select slabs that had more rust veining through them. As the stone wraps through into the interior there was a desire for a cooler palette. Artedomus were amazing to work with to personalize the space and choose the perfect stone for each room.
They were very patient with me and we looked at many options to finally choose the special pieces around the house. The next main featured stone in the house is the Vagli marble from Italy and that is just a selection of beautiful white marble with lovely purples, greens, pink tones and veins. The next stone is another feature stone that’s used all throughout the house, this beautiful stone called the Dedalus, it’s a marble that you can’t really find, from our understanding that quarry is closed. So to find that and find such beautiful slabs was really special and she’s used it as a real highlight piece in making the basin in the powder room and the beautiful Den Holm sculpture downstairs.
I believe it’s also used in some shelving in the wine cellar which is really beautiful and really celebrates how special that stone is. And lastly there was some Japanese mosaics that have been used in the spa area that are lovely. And another really hero piece is the custom Wyrie Table from the New Volumes range designed by Nick Rennie. It was customized in size and in the natural stone Selenis. We particularly love natural materials that have this inherent character and life and quality to them, materials that invite people towards them and that you want to touch and feel. I really wanted this property to transport you to another location, I’ve chosen most of my furniture from Italy to work with the stone. Because the interiors are very large open spaces we had to break up the room, so I’ve chosen the theme of tube LED lighting.
You can see this going through sconces around the house. The jewel of the house is the gorgeous Baxter chandelier hanging over the dining table. And when we approach light in a house it’s not just about maximising natural light everywhere but it’s about creating contrast and it’s that experience of the contrast that adds to the richness. The light is really key to bringing up the intricate detail in the stone, so depending where you stand and how you move around the house, the stone takes on a slightly different character.
I’m most proud of the transition through the house, the experience of entering the house from the street moving through the central access, experiencing the staircase and then that termination on the spectacular view of the city. And at Artedomus we’re so privileged to work with such creatives that design such beautiful spaces. You had an architect and a designer that really understood the materials, understood their limitations, the variations in them and so when it came down to the end result everyone was so happy. If i had to summarise the house I’d say it’s a pure expression of scale proportion and light.