Dream Team
Belle Magazine Australia|June 2017

Finally making this expansive house into the home they always wanted was a labour of love for these owners.

Ian Phillips

The owners of this house on a double lot in Melbourne’s Toorak – a couple passionate about art and design – clearly recall the first time they set eyes on it in 1983, when they drove past almost by chance. “We stopped the car and I said, ‘If we ever move, this is the type of house I’d absolutely love’,” recalls the husband. “It almost had something of a fairytale feel about it.” Dating from the 1920s, it was designed in the Tudor Revival style by architect Robert Bell Hamilton for the director of Victoria’s electricity commission. Serendipitously, a week later it came up for sale.

Back then, it was in a sorry state. A downpipe at the front was broken, there were issues with rising damp and an unalluring 1970s-style flat roof extension had been added to the back. But that did nothing to deter them. “One of the themes by which we live our lives is ‘contagious optimism’,” says the husband. “We saw the problems, but we dreamed of what we could create in the future.”

It ended up taking some time to realise. Initially, they conceived plush bedrooms for their two children, but other parts of the house remained unfinished as they focused for decades on building up their businesses. “Our room almost looked like we were at university,” quips the wife. “Part of the walls weren’t even painted or wallpapered,” adds her husband.

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