Frame Of Ref­er­ence

A Mel­bourne ren­o­va­tion that speaks to its own­ers’ love of art and of fam­ily gath­er­ings.

Australian House & Garden - - Contents - STORY Stephen Crafti | STYLING Ju­lia Green | PHOTOGRAPHY Armelle Habib

In bay­side Mel­bourne, the trans­for­ma­tion of a her­itage prop­erty has pro­vided a new home for not one, but two, art col­lec­tions – and a dy­namic, wel­com­ing gath­er­ing space for fam­ily and friends.

Alan Syn­man, a found­ing di­rec­tor of SJB Ar­chi­tects, had a long­stand­ing af­fec­tion for the bay­side Mel­bourne sub­urb where he had been liv­ing since 2008, hav­ing first bought prop­erty there back in 1968. His part­ner, Zorita Sor­mann, was more fa­mil­iar with the city’s chic south-east. But when the cou­ple de­cided to search for a new place to­gether, Alan was quick to spot a list­ing just around the cor­ner from his then-home, and re­alised its po­ten­tial to cre­ate a happy abode to share.

“We were both look­ing for a larger plot, with a gar­den. It was re­ally a mat­ter of who found the most ap­pro­pri­ate place first,” says Alan, who was drawn to the dou­ble-fronted Vic­to­rian-era house and the 500m2 land size. Another at­trac­tive fea­ture was the plan­ning per­mits it came with, worth their weight in gold in a her­itage-listed area.

“Af­ter hav­ing ren­o­vated four other homes in the area, I’m fully aware of the del­i­cate and in­tri­cate plan­ning process, par­tic­u­larly in her­itage ar­eas,” says Alan.

While adept at deal­ing with ren­o­va­tions of this scale, Alan was of­fi­cially re­tired from SJB and happy to hand over the core of the project to Foomann Ar­chi­tects and SJB In­te­ri­ors, with Fido Projects ap­pointed as builders. “I was still in­te­gral to the de­sign process, as was Zorita.”

The brief, un­sur­pris­ingly, was clear. Apart from hav­ing abun­dant nat­u­ral light, the ren­o­va­tion also needed to house and show­case two sub­stan­tial art col­lec­tions, one pri­mar­ily sculp­ture; the other, paint­ing. “We also wanted a large din­ing area – the guest list for one of our fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions can have as many as 40 peo­ple,” says Zorita. “I felt that the din­ing area should be piv­otal to the de­sign, as well as con­nected to the back gar­den.”

For­tu­nately, the basics were al­ready present. Along with the her­itage­listed fa­cade and or­nate veran­dah, the front rooms were in rel­a­tively

good con­di­tion. Fire­places, skirt­ing boards and or­nate ar­chi­traves were in­tact. They re­stored the fa­cade, in­clud­ing tuck­point­ing the bricks, and opened up the front of the house; there’s now a liv­ing room to one side of the pas­sage and on the other, a study/of­fice for Alan as well as a li­brary/TV room. Cus­tomised glass and steel dis­play cases, re­lo­cated from Alan’s pre­vi­ous home, ‘pierce’ one wall, al­low­ing nat­u­ral light to reach across the cen­tral pas­sage.

The main change has been the ad­di­tion of a two-storey wing ori­ented to the north-east. On the ground floor, this ac­com­mo­dates a kitchen, but­ler’s pantry and two din­ing ar­eas: one ca­sual, one more for­mal in am­bi­ence. A steel and tim­ber stair­case leads up­stairs, where there are three bed­rooms and two bath­rooms. “I wanted a fairly tra­di­tional ar­range­ment of bed­rooms, even though chil­dren have long fled the nest,” says Alan. A de­tached stu­dio at the rear of the prop­erty, com­plete with bil­liard ta­ble, is a big lure when chil­dren and grand­chil­dren visit.

“It’s a fam­ily home,” says Alan, “but it’s also a great place when ev­ery­one leaves and we’re here on our own.” Foomann Ar­chi­tects, Mel­bourne, Vic­to­ria; 0408 546 470 or foomann. SJB In­te­ri­ors, Mel­bourne, Vic­to­ria; (03) 9686 2122 or Fido Projects, Mount El­iza, Vic­to­ria; 0405 206 186 or­do­pro­ Phillip John­son Land­scapes, Monbulk,

Vic­to­ria; (03) 9756 7233 or www.phillipjohn­

‘I like the way the new el­e­ments blend with the old home, and the in­ter­ac­tion with the street through lay­ered land­scap­ing.’ Alan Syn­man

For Where to Buy, see page 187. #

BATH­ROOM The dark-toned van­ity seems to be sus­pended in midair, while the pixel­lated pat­tern­ing of glass mo­saic wall tiles sug­gests move­ment. Tiles, The City Tiler. No­bili New Road mixer, Reece.

Smart buy: O ves­sel in Black, $125, Re­duxr.

DIN­ING Jamie Sor­mann of Foomann Ar­chi­tects in this new space, which has a strong Ja­panese sen­si­bil­ity. “Work­ing with Alan and Zorita al­lowed us to not just on the over­all scheme but also the de­tails, which trans­forms a projects into some­thing quite spe­cial,” says Jamie, who worked along­side co-di­rec­tor Jo Foong.

BACK­YARD The own­ers com­mis­sioned Phillip John­son Land­scapes, a for­mer Chelsea Flower Show win­ner, to work on the rear gar­den. “As we neared com­ple­tion, I could see the ad­van­tages of more ex­ten­sive and more ma­ture plant­ings,” says Alan. Ribbed-cedar cladding. Vel­letri out­door ta­ble and chairs, Huset.

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