Climate Changing

Last Updated: 09 Jul 2014
Jessica Rule

Inspired by the owner’s vibrant art collection, moody hues changed the atmosphere of this Melbourne home to echo the city’s notoriously changeable weather.

In a leafy pocket of Hawthorn East, a new-build home cuts a contemporary form against the backdrop of large mansions and stately Edwardian terraces. Its interiors are the love child of a cool contemporary palette of stormy hues and a mid-century furniture aesthetic, with a healthy dose of layered lighting and lush textures.

The owners, a professional couple with two teenage sons, sought a polished and sophisticated interior that would also serve as a low-maintenance backdrop for their busy lives.

They enlisted Lauren Macer at Sisalla Interior Design to instill a sense of their family and some soul into the spaces, because the existing home bore the common new-build hallmarks of clinical white spaces and capacious rooms.

"It was always a beautiful house, however it has its own set of challenges with the rooms being very spacious," explains Lauren. "Although it is great to have a lot of space, it's also important to create a feeling of comfort and atmosphere. A big empty white room does not feel like home."

To remedy this, Lauren chose a colour scheme to enliven the interiors and establish the theme throughout the home. "The client has some great artwork collected locally and from overseas, which was the stylistic inspiration behind the interior design," she says. "They are quite abstract, with similar colouring, and are pieces that I personally am drawn to, which allowed the design process to run smoothly."

A stormy palette for the formal lounge sees shades of grey in seating arrangements – a sofa from Oz Design and armchairs from Temperature Design – pair with a black Minotti side table from DeDeCe. These are tied together via a plush custom cobalt floor rug from The Rug Collection. Lauren has accessorised the room with finds from Exhibit and Meizai.

Indonesian artworks Equator I and Equator II – by Made Sumadiyasa, from Komaneka Gallery in Bali – make quite the pair in the family lounge and dining. In the bedroom, On the Balcony by Australian Archibald Prize-winner Garry Shead hangs by the bed. The formal dining is enlivened by a piece named La Femme Naguel by Paris-based Argentinean artist Diego Menendez, and a local piece named Manne Stonewater 1 by Australian artist Wendy Stokes, bought at Leonard Joel Auction House.

This foundation palette of stormy blues and greys hosts cheerful bursts of colour, like sunshine popping out from behind rain clouds. To the observer, it feels suggestive of the weather for which Melbourne is notorious.
"The formal living and dining areas called for a sophisticated and 'grown-up' approach," says Lauren. "A darker palette with accents of turquoise and blues gives a feel of modern luxury. Dashes of glamour are found in layered texture, lighting and art glass with metallic accessories."

An Ikat floor rug from The Rug Collection and blue paint scheme work with a silver Chipperfield bedside lamp from Euroluce on a Temperature Design bedside table. Linen from Sheridan continues the colour scheme. The small kangaroo painting beside the bed is On the Balcony by Australian Archibald prize winner Garry Shead from his DH Lawrence Kangaroo series.

The master bedroom has a more intimate and serene atmosphere, with a dark blue palette layered with natural linens and sheer curtains. "My favourite element of the home is the effect the sheer curtains give in the formal living and bedroom, which soften the spaces beautifully," says Lauren. "As designers, we can get obsessed with allowing natural light into spaces, however in this case it was about filtering the light and darkening to create a moody effect."

This layering of light also creates drama, texture and ambience, using pendant lights, highlight lighting for the artwork and floor, and table lights to good effect.
An open-plan living area has been designed so that each member of the family can use it simultaneously for their own function, and maintains a clean and sophisticated interior space. "This area is enhanced with a lighter overall mood, with a brighter colour palette found in the accent pieces," says Lauren. "But the most important element was ensuring that the design would work for the family, both practically and spatially."

While they sought a chic and polished look emblematic of the high-end suburb, the home also needed to be a family home in the practical sense. "Although the house is spacious, with multiple living areas, it was important for the family to spend time all together in the one area," explains Lauren. "Instead of the boys doing their homework away from the family in their bedrooms, they study in the living area and block out noise with their headphones."

Working with the owners' current furniture, Lauren drew on a few key pieces of mid-century furniture, which were reupholstered, and served as the guide for the rest of the furnishings. While the contemporary purchases are new additions, they are sympathetic to a retro aesthetic either through their form or their colour scheme.

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