In Harmony
Belle Magazine Australia|April 2018

A muted palette of alternating black and white rooms lends a pleasing rhythm to this stylishly understated house.

Chris Pearson

Rhythm is a word interior designer Dylan Farrell often uses when he relates the story of this house in inner Melbourne. The ground-floor rooms, their palettes alternating in black and white, are like notes on a piano, their ebb and flow creating a harmonious unity. “It’s the assembly of simple ideas, one note at a time into a complex song,” he says. “It’s not showy, just subtle things making an impactful whole.”

He first sighted the six-bedroom, three-level house when the owners Sarah Lew and her partner bought it back in 2015. Its exterior was a modernist take on Italianate style, the rear grandly boasting three tiers of concrete colonnades. Sarah was drawn to the home’s “captivating scale, symmetry and natural light”.

Reflecting the classical references, the bones were solid, but the execution left it cold and unwelcoming. There was no flow from one room to the next, says Dylan. And, while the workmanship was undisputed, the house lacked attention to visual detail. Bulky marble skirtings may have given it gravitas but paradoxically, the doorways were without the architraves to balance them, so were simply openings in walls. And a hallway running from the entry to the rear with the rooms off each side was “like a bowling alley”.

Dylan’s brief, he says, was “to make the house warmer and more inviting, with hand-applied dark finishes and warm timbers creating a sense of intimacy”. And to add movement to the static spaces. Sarah adds, “My vision was for a classic, contemporary home with a chic Parisian modern influence. It had to remain timeless and have an understated elegance. Practicality and usability were also key. We didn’t want a home that looked too pristine to live in.”

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