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House Tour: Inside a Modern Australian Home Made for Sensational Home Entertaining

See inside this modern apartment where colour is cleverly used to create a sense of spaciousness

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By House & Garden South Africa | June 8, 2024 | Interiors

Located in Burnley, a suburb close to Melbourne’s CBD with Victorian terraces, this townhouse development is one of many in the area. ‘So, claiming a “patch of green” was imperative given the home has no traditional rear garden,’ says interior designer Fiona Lynch. The client, who had been following the studio’s work for some time, is a fan of a previous residential project in the nearby suburb of Fitzroy within a converted boot factory.

Photography by Amelia Stanwix

About her studio’s approach to design, Fiona says, above all, the aim is to achieve an emotive potency through the mood-enhancing impact of captivating tonal explorations and tactile material selections. ‘Working across residential, retail, office, hospitality, art institution and hotel interiors with a keen emphasis on custom joinery, furniture and lighting design, our atmospheric creations embody a highly resolved sensual minimalism. Restraint is a term we often use in-house, balancing rigour and nuanced subtleties.’ With this project, in particular, Fiona shares the approach was to soften the apartment’s architecture through colour to create a sense of spaciousness. ‘Previously a dark and oppressive enclave, we unified and brightened rooms, with the exception of the master bedroom. Walls in the main living areas were covered in polished plaster to allow light to bounce about, enabling the tactile nature of the furnishings to shimmer with a velvety finish,’ she says.

Photography by Amelia Stanwix

And how does the owner engage and interact with the space? ‘He moves about the house following the sun in the cooler months, starting on the upper green deck mid-morning, before retiring back indoors. The master bedroom’s densely mottled fibre cement sheet walls usher a sense of utmost quiet. Countering the sun-bathed light from the adjoining courtyard, shadows cast upon them provide a calming effect. Within, a sapphire armchair glows like an oversized precious stone mined from the site, as does the lounge room’s faceted emerald green electroplated steel pedestal (strategically placed beside another armchair that beckons hours of relaxation).’

Photography by Amelia Stanwix

Bringing the outside in creates the feeling of an open air space, which was achieved with this three-storey home condensed within a 154-square-metre frame. Fiona affirms this was the intention, ‘the top-level living area’s compact footprint visually expands towards the newly planted balcony, especially as the doors are drawn open in the warmer months. The sage linen curtains have a breathing quality about them, allowing fresh air to filter inside even when they are drawn to block the sun. Natural timbers in-setting floor heating and cooling, orbiting the dining table and surrounding oversized glass doors leading to the balcony and courtyard beneath further connect the room to the garden and treetops beyond,’ she says. The client’s desire was to create a luminous sanctuary that capitalised upon the natural light afforded by a generous balcony on the top level of his townhouse (on the third floor) and courtyard beneath it with an air of quiet, contemplative cool.

‘We responded by creating a feeling of privacy and tranquillity through layered tones.’ Fiona notes that colour cools and texture warms and comforts with seasonal ease. ‘Soothing shades of sage and pistachio merge with deep oceanic blue and the seafoam white of the dining table’s elliptical marble surface to deflect the intensity of summer heat. They directly respond to the sky. Potted plants and vines were introduced early on in the revitalisation of the home by a landscaping company so that the outdoor area would possess an abundantly leafy feel by the time the project was completed.’ Notably, the plants bring an energising quality and visual inquiry through the seasons. ‘Particularly for those who live in the inner city, they have a restorative, calming effect,’ says Fiona.

Photography by Amelia Stanwix

About the style and personality of the house, she says it is balancing the raw with the refined and the polished with supple and organic elements. ‘An intuitive musing on tactility, depth, light and shadow. The owner’s love of entertaining and his interest in drawing nature inside inspired the design outcome as the kitchen and lounge area can spill out to an “entertaining deck”. Equally, he is a fan of quiet retreat, and as such there are plenty of contemplative pockets that encourage introspective lounging.’ The walls, which lay bare, ‘emphasise this airiness, concealing integrated storage. Adjoining the lounge’s fireplace, black ash open shelving enables the corner to recede into undefined depth. A lithe folded curtain of pale green fibreglass matching the shade in the dining room (custom created in collaboration with jeweller and designer Brenton Angel) rustles on the other side of the fireplace, counter-balancing the recessive nature of the shelves. Strategically positioned in an upright, angled position, it glistens in the sunlight. For Fiona, the overall look and feel of the interior champions aesthetic invention and experimentation, ‘but there is an underlying theme of relaxed elegance woven amongst the spaces’. Sinuous lines feature throughout, including upholstered armchairs and Carl Hansen & Søn ‘Embrace’ dining chairs.

Photography by Amelia Stanwix

With the ultimate vision clearly defined – to exploit the magic of natural and feature lighting to expand spatial parameters – Fiona says the cosseting, tactile nature of the furnishings create a home that becomes a cosy retreat. ‘I wanted to push boundaries regarding material selections, which we did thanks to our collaboration with Brenton Angel via his manipulation of fibreglass, in particular, to create sculptural pieces,’ she says. Further noting that the owner, who had originally studied architecture, was interested in gestural elements and eclectic pieces of furniture with intriguing form, and this had to resonate throughout the home. ‘We were in a fortunate position to acquire new pieces throughout, including several key commissions that progressively link the spaces which our client was refreshingly receptive to.’

And her reaction to the outcome of the project, which took approximately 12 months to complete? ‘We want the design process for our residences to both excite and spark curiosity, ultimately resulting in a finely tuned outcome that exceeds our client’s expectations and, most importantly, resonates with them,’ says Fiona of the project. ‘It certainly did; he’s thrilled! We photographed the project on a gloriously sunny day, and it felt like it was shimmering. I think we reached “sanctuary status” with this one!’

Photography by Amelia Stanwix

Fiona Lynch Interior Design