Once busy with the sound of many feet practising the waltz and the foxtrot, this 1880s former dance school in Melbourne now rings with the sound of children playing. ‘I love having a full house, so I didn’t want anything to feel too precious,’ says its owner. ‘Initially, the sofa in the living room was going to be velvet, but with kids I had to re-think things. The place had to have personality, but I wanted it to feel very homely – even though the proportions are big.’
That grand scale, epitomised by the 6.6-metre-high ceiling in what was once the main ballroom – now an impressive kitchen/diner – inspired interior designer Claire Larritt-Evans to push the envelope with lashings of colour. ‘I knew it could hold a daring palette,’ she explains. Having met her clients socially before working with them, Claire was already familiar with their aesthetic. ‘I knew them to be bold in their fashion choices, which was a fantastic springboard to work from to ensure that the home reflected their personal style.’
Colour is deeply important here. Complementing the elaborate original hallway tiling and the stained-glass panels in the dining room are eight paint colours (some bold, some more subdued) and four different varieties of stone. The rare blue Sodalite marble in the kitchen and the veined ice-green marble that accompanies the teal fluted joinery in the bathroom are highlights. They are brave design choices, but, says Claire, ‘nothing screams or demands attention’.
Alongside the showstopping splashes of bright hues, there are also pockets of luxurious intimacy to be found. Formerly a boring white space, the main bedroom is now a tranquil retreat transformed with soft grey walls and a sage-green sofa set against a backdrop of crimson-hued drapes. The family room also embraces a cosy vibe, with steps dropping down to a sunken area outfitted with a plush rug, American oak coffee table and a gallery wall.
This same easy calm extends to the living room at the front of the house. With its wintry chocolate-coloured rug, this may be a more grown-up space, but it’s far from formal. ‘We use it to read the papers and to watch the football with friends,’ say the homeowners. ‘It’s one room used many different ways.’ And, after years of neglect, its original marble hearth has been refurbished and is once again home to fires in the colder months. ‘The mix of wood-fire smoke, conversation and laughter gives this space a beautiful energy,’ adds Claire. larritt-evans.com
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration January 2020
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