Grand Bayside Home

It’s extremely rare that a property of this scale and in this position, overlooking Port Phillip Bay, comes onto the market. Originally a grand Victorian home, then converted into apartments in the 1930s, it was literally ‘reborn’ 10 years ago when Chamberlain Javens Architects, with interiors by Kerry Phelan Design Office, transformed this property into what it is today. Working with heritage architect Roger Beeston, director of RBA Architects, what was formerly a warren of rooms, disparately arranged, is now a grand family home. “Most of the building’s heritage had disappeared, both from its Victorian period, as well as from the 1930s,” says architect Stephen Javens, now director of K.P.D.O. Two of the few remaining Art Deco features were part of its façade and a fine steel staircase connecting two of the levels (now increased to three) within the home.


Although now appearing pristine, evoking the glamorous 1930s Hollywood style popular at the time, RBA worked tirelessly with the architecture and interior design team to ensure a rich 1930s ambiance was reinstated. The masonry walls were impregnated with a coloured cement render sensitive to the period and aluminium windows inserted in the 1980s were substituted with steel and glass windows evocative of the streamlined modernist period, popular between the wars. Glass artist Mark Phelan’s work also came to the fore, creating a contemporary yet 1930s-inspired leadlight window in the stairwell. “There were some significant clues to start with, but we were mindful of not creating a ‘faux’ period design that simply mimicked the Art Deco style,” says Javens. The design team also made the parameters clear from the outset, clearly delineating the past from the present, with cream-coloured bricks used for any of the new built form. “There’s a subtle change in the materials, but we tried to keep within the building’s original footprint,” he adds.


What was formerly four apartments, two at ground level and two on the first floor, is now a three-level house, with a new third level clad in a dark charcoal-stained timber. Designed for a family, who was keen to have a number of separate zones, as well as for extended family and friends staying over, the house had to been connected, with fluid spaces, as well as allow for a sense of independence as the children got older. Combining a series of smaller rooms, as well as creating a series of enfilades, the house, although substantial in size, allows for the finest in contemporary living. The design team was also mindful of creating a backdrop that would allow the owners to express their tastes and accommodate their furniture, paintings and objet d’art (hence the graphic, yet neutral black and white colour palette).


As this home is located in a highly coveted position, directly opposite Middle Park beach, with unimpeded views of Port Phillip Bay, the decision was made from the outset to locate the children’s and guest bedrooms at ground level and keep the main living areas, including the kitchen and dining area, on the first floor. “We wanted to take advantage of the water views, but the feel is lighter on the first floor,” says Javens, who also located the main bedroom and walk-in dressing area on this level, along with a study/sitting nook at the front of the home that enjoys the prized views over the bay. To allow for views back to the city skyline as well as creating another entertaining space, the architects and interior designers included a second living area on the third level.


Most children’s wings are simply a series of bedrooms and bathrooms. However, in this home, the entire ground floor is sumptuously appointed and includes a number of rooms where teenage or grown up children can entertain their friends independently. The ground floor also includes a separate lounge and a billiards room. However, rather than treat the ground floor rooms as ancillary spaces, the same level of detail and craftsmanship can be seen here as throughout the entire home. Customised joinery, open fireplaces and ensuites detailed to the nth degree can be seen on each level. The ‘ladder frame joinery’, a Japanese-inspired design, appears in the bathrooms and guest powder room, as well as in the main kitchen on the first floor. The combination of stained American oak and deep veined marble for bench tops and vanities creates a level of finesse and consistency.


The ladder frame joinery not only offers the serenity and Zen-like quality one would find in Japan, but offered the designers the means to allow unimpeded sight lines through the home. “We refrained from using walls where we didn’t feel they were appropriate, in areas such as the kitchen. But we also wanted to capitalise on the sea breezes in naturally ventilating the home,” says Javens. However, some rooms, such as a sitting room, adjacent to the kitchen, are more strongly tied to areas such as a beautiful vestibule offering prized views of the bay and its changing quality. “The mood is continually changing, whether it’s dull and overcast or brilliantly blue,” he says.


Javens still delights in the way his team handled the main bedroom suite, which includes a sitting nook leading overlooking the water. As one moves within this suite of spaces, the sense of moodiness increases, with the ensuite bathroom clad in a rich dark marble combined with stained American oak joinery. The freestanding bath, illuminated by a contemporary, but 1930s-inspired wall light, is akin to staying in a five-star luxury hotel. And what better way to start the evening after a soak in the tub followed by a glass of champagne in the specifically designed champagne bar. Complete with faceted timber panel walls and a sumptuous built-in lounge, this enviable spot in the home is a delightful way to entertain guests at the start of an evening. The other entertaining options include a bar to one side of the kitchen and for more casual entertaining, barbeques on the two lower levels. 


A swimming pool, a sauna, change facilities and outdoor barbeques make this home an ‘entertainer’s delight’, as much as an extraordinary family home in one of, if not THE best dress circles of Melbourne. “Each room takes on a special mood and each one has its own personality, some being more intimate, while others simply celebrating this magical location,” adds Javens.

223 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park is currently listed by Michael Armstrong - See more property details here

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