From old and falling apart to a sleek, contemporary design
This striking Spanish Mission brick house in the quiet streets of Elsternwick bears no resemblance to the site it once was when David, Livia and their family purchased it.
Indeed, it probably takes someone with nine renovations under their belt to have seen the potential of what is now the most charming, meticulously restored – and extended – home.
But where others saw rampant weeds, out-of-control trees, little natural light and almost unliveable conditions, David saw quality bones and the prospect of his most masterful renovation yet.
And that’s precisely what he’s delivered.
For years David, a former professional landscaper turned home builder, has quietly gone about restoring lovely aging Melbourne homes that might otherwise have been turned into homogenous concrete boxes.
He enjoys returning them to their former glory, and this family home in Elsternwick is no exception.
Originally the home was a fairly straight-forward Spanish Mission brick – two-bedrooms, a lounge or dining area, a kitchen, laundry and bathroom.
The roof was sagging, paint was falling off in chunks; rooms were dark and dreary.
This part of the home has undergone a complete restoration.
Original rosewood timber panelling remains, as does the original cornice work (a significant amount of time focused on retaining the delicate designs) and the exceptionally deep windows (approximately 400mm depth in the sill).
Wherever possible, David has retained delightful features of the home, such as the servery, which although no longer performs its original purpose, nonetheless adds a layer of inimitable charm and yesteryear quality.
As well as the beautiful fireplaces and glass door panels.
Yet despite the original features, there’s very little about this home that feels like it belongs to last century.
The master bedroom is thoroughly modern.
Aside from its generous proportions, a walk into the robe confirms that this home is cutting edge contemporary.
David and Livia have designed an intricate, thoughtful, well-planned robe the size of many a Melbourne bedroom.
Indeed – you could technically fit a queen sized bed within and still have plenty of space for clothes and accessories.
Beyond lies a wonderfully generous en suite complete with a full-size free-standing bath.
Walk down the hallway (fabulous storage concealed behind that exquisite rosewood timber panelling) and past the remaining original rooms (now an office and a formal dining area) and you’re plunged into the exquisite back half of the building; essentially a complete extension.
This space is breathtaking.
You can’t help but circle 360◦ at this point to take in some of the most striking features.
The ironbark wall along the west of the space redefines the term ‘feature’.
Rather than opt for paint or wallpaper, David has instead used native timber to create a tactile and natural statement.
It sets the scene for a striking, yet thoroughly relaxed and spacious living area.
The timber detail is then echoed on the other side of the room (where the kitchen is located) within the island bench as well as a door leading to a second kitchen, or butler’s pantry.
The bench itself is robust and expansive – the perfect place for a string of kids to sit and enjoy a casual breakkie before school.
Tassie Oak timber panelling on the floor and antique white on the walls and ceilings makes the space clean, fresh and – importantly – a blank canvas for beautiful décor.
It’s here in this space David’s thoughtfulness and practicality really shines and (once you’ve collected yourself from the shock of the space and its simple beauty) you begin to absorb just how clever this home is.
Take for example the splash back.
Although it might appear like a sleek glass window, it’s actually fully-opening, meaning the cooking can essentially happen al fresco.
Why have the house smell like frying onion when it can be naturally ventilated with the soft aromas of the garden?
Indeed, this place has been designed with practical family living in mind.
A ducted vacuum, oven doors that retract once open (no banging of little ones’ heads in this kitchen!), heating trays and plenty of surface and storage space (the latter of which is concealed behind bespoke anti slam cabinetry) makes for a home that’s married function with form.
The butler’s pantry features a sink, taps, a second dishwasher (the primary one being in the main kitchen), and excellent storage (David’s even added a Lazy Suzy into the cupboard).
This space enables the kitchen to be Kosher, an attractive feature given Elsternwick is home to a significant Jewish Australian community.
Where possible David has tried to incorporate accents of the original home into this new area – the dramatic pendant light that hangs over the family table is a case in point.
Look at it from a distance and it appears like a terrifically large bell-shaped statement piece.
Edge closer however, and you’ll notice the inside of this pendant mimics the restored cornices back in the first half of the house – brilliant.
Although at this point we should head upstairs and into the kids’ area, we just can’t go there yet.
You see, it’s impossible to ignore what lies outside – the view from the kitchen and living area.
Step onto timber decking and you’re immediately greeted to the left by the most fantastic al freso area.
David is a man who likes his outdoor dining and relaxing, clearly, and he’s lavished a lot of attention here.
Forget the humble free-standing BBQ; an enormous ‘floor to ceiling’ Travertine open fireplace sets the scene here.
It’s grand, it’s luxe; it’s just beckoning you to pull up a comfy chair, pour a glass of your favourite drop, and sit mesmerised in front of the flames.
It’s also spacious enough to invite half the street to come and join you if you’re so inclined.
But that’s not all.
To the right of the area lies an oasis that hints of Bali at its exotic best.
A pool about two-metres deep lies amid a row of lush foliage.
The white tiles give it a turquoise colour, whilst a lip design on the edge creates a sheet of constantly falling water; a wonderfully soothing quality that could well be as mesmerising as the nearby fire place!
In fact, half the street would probably be delighted to get an invitation out there!
In this handsomely landscaped area also lies a free-standing double garage attached to an outdoor gym and an upstairs bedroom and en suite.
We pull ourselves away to go back inside and upstairs.
Again – here we see that David is not just a builder and restorer, he’s a family man who knows exactly what a family needs.
Four bedrooms, each with walk in robes, gather around a central and common area (think rumpus room style), and large bathroom (again with a free-standing bath and shower).
David has installed Bose speakers throughout the home, as well as Cat 6 so that every TV can effectively double as a computer when need’s be.
He’s also installed a discreet projector back in the first half of the house, so that the room can double as a family entertainment area.
There’s even a video monitoring system for additional peace of mind.
In fact, there’s nothing David hasn’t considered during this epic renovation and extension.
He’s created a home that is at once lovingly restored as it is effortlessly contemporary.
He’s merged luxury with practicality; exquisite attention to detail with generous, expansive proportions.
Before he set out, David had planned for this to be the ultimate family home, and he’s succeeded in every possible way.
David’s Signature Renovation Tips
As it turns out, this talented serial renovator has some ‘signature’ features that inevitably find themselves in each of his homes.
1. Take it to the boundary
David prefers to extend properties to the boundary so as to create more space inside and therefore allow the addition of, for example, walk-in-robes.
2. Outdoor fire places
Elsternwick’s Travertine area has undoubtedly become the jewel in the crown of David’s outdoor fireplaces.
He loves family homes that can take everyone outside to enjoy the fresh air and space – and outdoor fireplaces enable them to do that year-round.
3. Storage, storage, storage
David leaves no stone unturned when it comes to maximising storage spaces in his homes.
He never underestimates just how much ‘stuff’ a family has.
Renovated attics, underneath stairwells; David looks at all ‘negative space’ as a chance to become a practical storage solution.
4. The winning kids’ formula
When possible, David will create a bedroom/ living area that concentrates on keeping all the kids in the one space, yet with their own individual rooms.
This usually realises itself as a large square segmented into four smaller square bedroom dwellings, each large enough for their own walk-in robes.
Central to all four rooms is a shared living area and bathroom.
It makes for a terrifically functioning home – the kids have ‘their’ space, which feels a little independent to the rest of the house.
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