The commission to re-dress this boom-time Victorian ‘palazzo’, in a quiet patch south-east of Melbourne, came with considerable historical baggage. Or so recalls the property’s co-owner, a media-shy, buoyant brunette whose fundraising activities swing from state opera companies to off-shore orphanages.
First, there was the design background that dates the classical Italianate structure back to 1857 and the office of Lloyd Tayler — co-architect of South Australia’s Houses of Parliament. Secondly, there was the pre-existing relationship with project designer Iain Halliday, the Sydney-based director of BKH, who had previously styled her family into “fabulous Sydney apartments”.
The entry hall, with walls painted above the dado in Dulux Goanna Grey. The chaise is upholstered in a gold silk velvet from French fabric house Lelièvre, which inspired the wall installation of vintage sunburst mirrors from Bijan Royal in New York.
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The main bedroom’s vintage touches include an art deco fire screen and a vintage mirror from Bernd Goeckler Antiques in New York. The mirrored bedhead was custom-made by Graham Geddes; another Stark carpet from Whitecliffe Imports softens the look.
In summer, the living area flows into an outdoor pavilion, furnished with Minotti Lifescape chaise longues and chairs, from Dedece.
“The house was never going to be about minimalism,” says Halliday conceding to the character of the architecture and its owner, “more an unbridled eclecticism.”