Golden TOUCH

An or­nate her­itage Vic­to­rian ter­race in Mel­bourne’s ALBERT PARK gets a contemporary makeover with a stylish, play­ful edge.

VOGUE Living Australia - - VLIVING - By An­nemarie Kiely Pho­tographed by Sharyn Cairns

STAY GOLDEN’ is the warm en­treaty is­su­ing from the web­site of Kylie Dorotic and Ali­cia McKimm, two in­te­rior de­sign­ers for­merly of We Are Huntly, who have re­branded their stu­dio with the tint of suc­cess. Ac­cord­ing to McKimm, Golden, their aus­pi­cious new mark, is more a por­tent of what they do and the ex­cel­lence of its ex­e­cu­tion than their in­de­ter­mi­nate old name. It is also more sug­ges­tive of the sen­ti­ment they seek to spark in their im­mer­sive work; one made man­i­fest on the firm’s web­site with an evoca­tive slideshow of sun on flaxen hair, peach on a wo­ven place­mat and af­ter­noon light hit­ting a linen cur­tain.

If it all sounds like spin, feast your peeps on this Vic­to­rian house, given the Golden touch by Dorotic and McKimm. Nestling amid an ar­chi­tec­turally sig­nif­i­cant row of like-his­toric houses in sea­side Mel­bourne, the two-storey ter­race was cours­ing for full al­ter­ations and an ad­di­tion when its owner came to the firm for their sig­na­ture lay­er­ing. McKimm, who de­scribes her­self as the nerdy num­bers per­son in the prac­tice, ex­plains that their prospec­tive client was a re­fer­ral from Fido Projects, the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula builders with a hand in high-end res­i­den­tial de­sign and a good re­la­tion­ship with Golden. He was also a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man with a main res­i­dence in Bal­larat and plans for a city pad with the barest of ne­ces­si­ties. “He didn’t re­alise that he needed us,” says McKimm. “Once we started to work with him, he un­der­stood the value in­her­ent in what we do and re­ally started to en­joy the process.” The process for in­stat­ing 21st-cen­tury smarts and swag­ger to one of Mel­bourne’s finest ex­am­ples of the Vic­to­rian Fil­i­gree style — re­plete with cast-iron dec­o­ra­tion, en­caus­tic tiles, faceted bay win­dows and stuc­coed or­na­men­ta­tion — was a seven-stage path­way. It be­gins with ‘dis­cov­ery’ (the client’s in­cli­na­tions and daily con­duct mined by ques­tion­naire) then tracks through the dry pro­ce­dure of site mea­sure­ment, schemat­ics, de­sign de­vel­op­ment, con­tract doc­u­men­ta­tion and ad­min­is­tra­tion to end in “the fun” of fur­ni­ture se­lec­tion. Spell­ing out such method­ol­ogy may seem over­wrought, but McKimm says most peo­ple have the mis­taken per­cep­tion (am­pli­fied by re­al­ity tele­vi­sion) that one per­son does ev­ery­thing over a few days. “He came to us with ren­der­ings of a slick and shiny scheme that didn’t quite gel with the home’s her­itage as­pects,” she says. “We told him we would chal­lenge ev­ery­thing he had shown us; take it all to the next level. He was will­ing to take the risk.” Cit­ing the strict her­itage over­lays on stuc­coed or­na­men­ta­tions, which re­quired months of restora­tion, orig­i­nal cab­i­net­work and the stair­case’s turned tim­ber balustrad­ing and treads, Dorotic de­scribes their ap­proach to the in-fill archetype — a light tun­nel with two front for­mal rooms flank­ing a hall­way spine that splays into an open-plan ad­di­tion — as the pur­suit of bal­ance.

“This house had to be com­fort­able,” she says of the three-bed­room struc­ture that is the client’s pied-à-terre, a base for en­ter­tain­ing and eat­ing out when he came to Mel­bourne. “But as a sec­ond house, it could af­ford to be play­ful.”

Push­ing past the prag­mat­ics of the scheme — such as a mas­ter bed­room planned and propped with the amenity of a pres­i­den­tial suite, and a kitchen is­land bench sited, scaled and sur­faced with the rugged mon­u­men­tal­ity of a small gran­ite moun­tain — Dorotic and McKimm made sure that the fi­nal ‘fun’ stage was in­clu­sive. “I took the client shop­ping,” says Dorotic, re­call­ing the day they did the re­tail rounds, road-test­ing so­fas and se­lect­ing fab­rics. “We ended up with a mix­ture of things he loved — [in the for­mal liv­ing room] that Ri­etveld lounge in Prus­sian blue, a cud­dly The Tired Man chair by Flem­ming Lassen and a sweet, shaggy Bax­ter chair. He gen­uinely re­sponded to each piece on the spot and I think the room is suf­fused with his char­ac­ter be­cause of it.” This trip was a smart con­duit to client own­er­ship of the scheme and fur­ther em­bold­ened his con­fi­dence with con­text and colour. It re­sulted in the rear liv­ing room’s ramp­ing of Edra’s Stan­dard sofa from black to char­treuse and its po­si­tion­ing on a pink rug. Dorotic and McKimm deftly me­di­ated her­itage de­tail and contemporary de­sign with a dark­ness of ma­te­rial — stain im­per­cep­ti­bly flow­ing a new oak floor into old Baltic pine — and an un­ex­pected play with pe­riod light­ing. In the mas­ter suite, Moooi’s skele­tal white Cop­pélia light mim­icks multi-armed Vic­to­rian chan­de­liers, while in the for­mal liv­ing rooms, Ap­pa­ra­tus Stu­dio’s Cloud pen­dants al­lude to gaslights.

The sum of the parts is rich but re­duc­tive, demon­stra­tive but quiet, uni­fied but ef­fer­vesc­ing with unique ex­pres­sions. These di­chotomies evince a de­sign that digs be­neath the dom­i­nance of the vis­ual to a place of deeper per­cep­tion. “All that is golden does not al­ways glit­ter,” says McKimm about her stu­dio’s reach for the soul­ful. “It can glow from within.”

“The owner came to us with ren­der­ings of a slick and shiny scheme… We told him we would chal­lenge ev­ery­thing he had shown us; take it all to the next level. He was will­ing to take the risk” ali­cia mckimm, golden

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