The narrative of this family’s home in an eastern suburb of Melbourne began with a spontaneous decision and spans more than 20 years. The result is a versatile home with a balance of private and public spaces, a long-term nest adored by owners Jennifer and Basil, and their adult children. Back when they were parents of young children, Jennifer and Basil were scouting property in the area when they happened to find themselves at an auction. They hadn’t even stepped inside the house, yet were so enchanted by the home’s period features that by the end of the day, they were the owners of the charming California bungalow. Over the years, they have carried out a series of renovations, creating the house of their dreams in stages. Attending to their specific needs at each point in time, and working within their means, they’ve had time to consider what works best for the house and for their family. Their first step included a few cosmetic updates and the repurposing of a utility room to create a bedroom for daughter Emma. As she and younger siblings Gabi and Alex grew up, the family’s requirements changed. A second storey was added and a double garage, storage space and gym excavated. Next came the pool and with it, hours of fun. In 2010, a more extensive renovation by Catt Architects saw the main bedroom updated with a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite, the kitchen replaced and a powder room added. “We also enclosed the back patio to create a sunroom with a fireplace,” says Jennifer. “The room was designed to be used year-round, left completely open in summer and made cosy and warm in winter.” But even after these home improvements, Jennifer felt that the house was lacking finesse. “I was struggling with a vision for the finished product,” she says. So she enlisted the help of interior architect Sally Richardson, who pulled together a beautifully cohesive palette of furniture, textiles, paintwork and accessories.
Laid out with many different zones, this home is well-equipped to enjoy summer in all its glory while providing snug nooks for retreat as winter sets in. The northerly aspect of the front verandah makes it a favourite place to warm up when the winter sun is low in the sky, while the sunroom, with hardwearing flooring and furnishings and a direct connection to the pool, is the perfect place to chill out when the mercury rises.
Just past the front door is the main bedroom, painted a
deep, sophisticated grey. The study and sitting room across the hall, part of the original home, are also cloaked in restful, cocooning colours. Further along the hall, the home opens up to a transitional zone, a previously confused and unused space that Sally transformed into a gallery. “It was the perfect place to use my grandmother’s Danish furniture and my late parents’ sideboard,” says Jennifer. “These formed the anchor around which we hung our collection of artworks.” A contemporary kitchen and predominantly white dining space enjoy floods of natural light from full-height windows overlooking the garden. Stairs on the opposite side lead up to the children’s bedrooms and a teen retreat. At the rear, the airy sunroom extends out to a pool and deck. Here, substantial seating in durable outdoor fabrics creates an inviting and unpretentious entertaining zone, designed to host gatherings from pool parties to Sunday afternoons by the fire. Of course, families and circumstances change with the passage of time, shifting gears over the years. With their children now all of adult age and one moved out, Jennifer and her husband have turned their focus to a new challenge, setting up a home for the next stage of their lives. But the fondest of memories have been forged within these walls, a record of two decades of family life well lived