– a dark blue pal­ette is used to dra­matic ef­fect in Mel­bourne’s leafy sub­urbs


The bold use of an inky blue pal­ette to­tally trans­formed this Mel­bourne

home, with­out the need for struc­tural al­ter­ations.

Be­low: the Ro arm­chair and foot­stool in the main liv­ing area are Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen, the stan­dard lamp and star­burst mir­ror are vin­tage, while the cof­fee ta­ble was cus­tom-made. Left: tak­ing the blue paint into the hall links the con­tem­po­rary part of the house to the orig­i­nal rooms.

Belinda Hall’s house in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, shows what can be done to live more beau­ti­fully within an ex­ist­ing frame­work of a build­ing. Mel­bourne’s old­est sub­urbs were laid out in the boom years of the Vic­to­rian era gold rush, when neat quad­rants of brick cot­tages were built, street by street. Th­ese streets are now lush and leafy, and the homes in them much sought-af­ter. Houses of this era are most of­ten ren­o­vated to re­tain the gra­cious front rooms, while de­mol­ish­ing the var­i­ous ad­di­tions at the back to erect a mod­ern ex­ten­sion; a ‘white box’, if you will, with lofty ceil­ings, bright spa­ces and open-plan liv­ing. Hall’s house had al­ready been ren­o­vated in this man­ner when she found it, but she viewed it as a blank can­vas and “set about adding mean­ing to our space for our fam­ily”.

With­out any fur­ther struc­tural changes or ar­chi­tec­tural in­put she has trans­formed the house into some­thing al­to­gether more so­phis­ti­cated – a home that re­sponds to the dif­fer­ent needs of a grow­ing fam­ily and one that feels warm, lay­ered and en­rich­ing.

The house re­tains no ves­tige of its for­mer life as a work­ing dairy and from the street, the for­mal gar­den and the deep red brick fa­cade give no hint to the vim and colour of the in­te­rior.

Hall, an in­te­rior stylist, to­gether with her busi­ness part­ner Fiona Richard­son, forged a de­sign ethos based on the idea of in­te­ri­ors re­flect­ing the rich lay­ers of life, where many life­times of travel and liv­ing come to­gether in a care­fully edited mod­ern fam­ily home. They set about cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent spa­ces to al­low the fam­ily to con­gre­gate or sep­a­rate, de­pend­ing on the mood.

Hall’s hus­band, Pa­trick, was an en­thu­si­as­tic col­lab­o­ra­tor in the project. He brought pieces home from his trav­els abroad, in­clud­ing a pair of pineap­ple wall sconces, although even he baulked at lug­ging a tin of Far­row & Ball paint across the world.

The trans­for­ma­tion of the house started with wall­pa­per, which Hall says as­sisted in cre­at­ing warm, emo­tive spa­ces. “For me it harked back to pos­i­tive child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences – my daugh­ter Rose’s room was pa­pered in a soft metal­lic Cole­fax and Fowler Rose wall­pa­per, which was a nod to my grand­mother’s dec­o­rat­ing choices.”

The great­est leap, though, was choos­ing a deep, mid­night blue as the dom­i­nant colour in the back part

Left: Hall re­uphol­stered the vin­tage arm­chairs, the ar­moire is vin­tage French, a Gan Kilim Palermo rug adds a con­tem­po­rary feel to the space. Be­low: Hall and daugh­ter Rose sit on

leather win­dow seat ban­quettes.

Left: the din­ing chairs are vin­tage from Ar­rben Italy, the jug is 1980s Con­ran. Above left: the kitchen cab­i­nets were painted to match the walls. Above right: a soda dis­penser, crys­tal de­canters and cloche (all vin­tage) dress a Gubi trol­ley, be­hind which hangs An­thro­polo­gie’s Etched Ar­ca­dia Mu­ral. Be­low right: glossy blue tiles bounce light around the kitchen. Be­low left: white work­tops con­trast with the blue pal­ette.

of the house. This cre­ated warmth and al­lowed for dif­fer­ent spa­ces to emerge.

Wall­pa­per, in­door trees and smaller sit­ting zones de­fined by rugs also as­sist with this. Two nib walls pa­pered with the tow­er­ing trees of An­thro­polo­gie’s Etched Ar­ca­dia Mu­ral clev­erly lead away from the kitchen space. A win­dow seat tucked in the cor­ner beck­ons, and French doors painted in the same dark blue pro­vide a stun­ning con­trast with the vivid green of the gar­den, lead­ing the eye out­wards.

“Paint­ing out all wood­work en­sures the depth of the colour feels end­less,” says Hall. “This sin­gle move and the later de­ci­sion to paint the kitchen cab­i­nets and in­stall Span­ish tiles in deep­est blue re­ally en­sured the suc­cess of the scheme”. Those tiles gloss­ily light up the kitchen and en­liven the space.

The deep blue con­trasts beau­ti­fully with pale floors and pieces such as a blonde-wood side­board, cre­ated in the 1950s by Al­bert Guénot, the for­mer head de­signer at French depart­ment store, Le Bon Marché. Other spe­cial pieces – a brass vase, stone sculp­ture or wool cush­ion – pro­vide a natural el­e­ment to the house and add a thought­ful layer to the re­fur­bish­ment, de­signed to put you at ease.

As Hall says, “My favourite ex­pe­ri­ences at home are the times when all fam­ily mem­bers are milling around in the one large room, sep­a­rately read­ing, draw­ing, watch­ing TV, cook­ing – but all to­gether.” The warmth of the pal­ette pro­vides much-needed cosi­ness on Mel­bourne’s cold win­ter even­ings, when the open fire­place is a bless­ing.

To link the con­tem­po­rary rear of the house with the orig­i­nal rooms at the front, the hall­way was painted at half height in the deep blue. Above this, sits a dado line in bril­liant gold, by ar­ti­san Aus­tralian com­pany Porter’s Paints. The gold picks up gilt pic­ture frames, in­clud­ing a por­trait of Hall’s mother by her great-grand­fa­ther.

The mas­ter bed­room is a study in calm; blush pink walls cre­ate airi­ness and mod­ern pieces con­trast with the clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­tural forms of the win­dows. The pen­dant light and bed­side light are clean and crisp in this rest­ful room. The colour scheme is clas­si­cal; pink, the grey of the orig­i­nal mar­ble fire­place and a pop of colour from the cit­rine bed­spread.

Cor­ners to sit and read, spa­ces for chil­dren to play and per­form. Enough space for a large gath­er­ing of friends or a quiet mo­ment at the end of a busy week. That is the suc­cess of this in­ner-city trans­for­ma­tion; all in all, a place of spir­ited sanc­tu­ary.

Be­low: the Lus­tre 3 Petit Cargo pen­dant light by De­sign Heure and bed­side light by

Lumina add a mod­ern touch to the calm mas­ter bed­room. Left: Cole­fax and Fowler Fon­te­nay wall­pa­per in Rose’s bed­room. Far left: the win­dows in the mas­ter bed­room re­tain their orig­i­nal form.

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