Australian House & Garden
Tucked away behind a high fence, this tailor-made Melbourne home provides a beautiful backdrop for its modernist-leaning owners, writes Vanessa Walker.
A year after Meagan and her husband Steven missed out on their dream home at auction, they bought this block in Melbourne’s inner north. The existing house had no redeeming features, however, so was swiftly demolished in preparation for the couple to build anew. “I told my book club and they said the first thing I had to do was get an architect,” says Meagan. “I didn’t know what one was.” They dutifully furnished her with a list of their favourites.
Meagan and Steven chose Steffen Welsch, principal of Steffen Welsch Architects, because he seemed down-to-earth. What they didn’t realise was how well-suited he was to them personally. “He is German, calm and a minimalist,” says Meagan. And, as it turned out, that both aligned with, and encouraged, their nascent design ideas.
‘I love the way the house has been custom made for me and Steven.’
Top of Meagan’s wish list was personal security, for both their beloved pets – Julia and Cordelia the Russian blues and Harry the spoodle – and themselves. She also wanted indoor-outdoor flow and lots of light. Steven simply wanted not to feel hemmed in by four walls: he envisaged high ceilings, sliding doors and a courtyard.
Today, after a two-year, faultless build by Lee Gordon, they reside in a highly liveable, divinely detailed, two-bedroom home. Tucked behind high fences, they enjoy not one but four courtyards as well as floor-to-ceiling glazing that bathes the home in natural light.
It is the interior that really sets this home apart. The cathedral ceiling rises to 4.5m, giving the home a sense of uncluttered spaciousness. Steven had specified parquetry floors, which are rendered in Australian beech in the library, living and kitchen/dining areas. Meagan had admired an art-backed splashback at an open home, so Lee arranged for his sister-in-law, artist Alex Hotchin, to illustrate the journey Meagan and Steven took when they were married in Sicily; this was printed on glass and provides a stunning backdrop in the kitchen.
The aesthetic that Steffen bought to the home’s structure consolidated Steven’s love of mid-century modernism and over the course of the build he acquired prime examples from all the greats including Grant Featherston, Arne Jacobsen and Louis Poulsen.
‘I love having a garden to tinker with and the freedom the pets have.’
Now the house is finished, Meagan says she feels an inalienable sense of home. And Steven couldn’t be happier surrounded by his beloved design classics, although he’s a practical man at heart. “What do I love the most?” he says. “Mowing the lawn. It’s a handkerchief.”
Steffen Welsch Architects, Fitzroy North, Victoria; (03) 9988 9411 or www.steffenwelsch.com.au. Lee Gordon – Builder, Blackburn South, Victoria; 0402 123 107 or www.leegordonbuilder.com. Kate Seddon Landscape Design, Windsor, Victoria; 0403 254 368 or ksldesign.com.au.