Nonstop colour and a “place where 15 people can come and eat pizza” is what Nicola Caras and Nadav Baker wanted for their Melbourne home – a place where friends could come and “chill” and their kids could have pillow fights in the sunken living room.
While the playful brief reflected their love of colour, high-end materials and attention to detail were just as important. Nicola, a puzzle maker who commissions imagery from artists featuring illustrations of Prince Harry and Jay-Z, told architects and interior designers Bayley Ward to push the boundaries.
“We said, ‘Grey isn’t a colour’, and went from there,” says Nicola. “We told Bayley Ward not to be scared. The two-pack in the kitchen is peacock green, the powder room has dusty pink marble and the kids’ bathroom has red tapware and a navy Corian vanity. We kept telling them to keep going. Whenever we found a cool product, we just tried to use it somewhere.”
The only thing Nicola and Nadav, who used to own a gallery, feared was tame monochromes and humdrum finishes. The thrill of having gutsy clients wasn’t lost on interior designer Jacinda Jones, who worked alongside project architect Olena McCallum. “Most clients say they love colour but when it actually comes down to the wire then they dilute it,” says Jacinda. “I’m very used to reining it in, but whenever I suggested something remotely muted to them they said it was too boring and to switch it out!”
The superior brick construction and the couple’s objection to anything overly modern ultimately resulted in a full gut and rear extension rather than a knock-down.
Jacinda made delicate tweaks to the “very subtle Deco flavour” of the facade by adding curved edges on the portico and front steps. The front door was replaced with ribbed glass and a steel-framed geometric motif. “It creates a stronger sense of arrival, a little more drama,” says Jacinda. A 1940s relic, the facade has a composed and conservative poker face – but inside, the entry is a show-stopper, with an oversized scalloped timber dowel and Perspex inset screen that aligns with the stairs and runs across both levels. Once enclosed, the staircase is now a “welcoming statement that glows”, says Jacinda.
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