A wildly eclectic array of furnishings and finishes seem to serendipitously work in this house, which has a sense of fun as well as serious design cred.
Secured onto the front fence of this Edwardian home in Melbourne’s leafy Glen Iris is an honestypolicy ‘street library’. Not long ago, a local dropped off the ABC of Design, a compact book running the gamut of the most iconic tables and chairs throughout history. It’s a fitting addition to the colourful glass-walled cubby decorated by the owners’ children and an apt reflection of their home’s interiors: whimsical, kid-friendly and diverse, with some classics thrown in. “Hard and soft, colourful and neutral, patterned and plain,” says interior designer Chelsea Hing of the refined ‘dance’ between furniture, fixtures and fittings. “They wanted something more individual that spoke to their aesthetic. The balance for us was to bring in a sense of timelessness but also a sense of fun. There are lots of elements of surprise.”
The family lived with the 1980s floral walls and a green lino kitchen for three years before work began on an extension by architect Michael Jan Studio. Shortly thereafter, they engaged Chelsea to give the interiors a much-needed decorative lift. The initial brief was confined to renovating the rear, but it wasn’t long before the scope expanded and works inched into the corridor and eventually, the whole ground floor.
“[Originally] we were just going to square off the kitchen, the living room and the butler’s pantry but then we looked at the nook behind the living room and started to look at the finishes and how that worked with the existing. So we ended up creeping into the hallway, then the dining room and the guest powder room. It grew and grew, but it made sense to do as much as possible while everyone was on the job,” she says.
The den to the left of the entry remained untouched, while an unnecessary opening to the right was closed off to redefine the foyer. Chelsea wrapped antique-style panelling around the corner and into the corridor, embracing – rather than competing with – the dim, west-facing orientation by painting the walls a dark forest green. “In period houses, with their cornices and archways, downlights simply don’t work so we had to be more inventive as to how to get light into these spaces,” she says. “Because the hallway was [already] dark, we just went with it, but it meant we had to triple up the lights. That’s why we have wall