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.

Belle - - Rhode Island Home -

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

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