A Melbourne CBD pied-à-terre for social entrepreneurs Anna and Robert Fleming (and their three grandchildren), this stunning residence was originally built in 1891 but underwent a renovation recently by interior designer Penny Del Castillo of In Design International. Rather than going down the well-trodden path of complete modernisation, Penny looked to the building’s history instead.
“Honouring the heritage listing and giving consideration to the tiny footprint, we elected to recreate the grandeur of the times, rather than align the design to a more urban look,” says Penny.
Located within the 1890’s Victorian Railway Headquarters building, the project began with the removal of an unsympathetic late 20th century renovation, before the whole home was redesigned.
“The decoration and detail demonstrate the ongoing importance of paying homage to those creatives who came before us. We injected a a contemporary vision to reveal how the seamless integration of contemporary Australian design, within historic spaces, can be achieved to ultimately create a layered narrative. This project tells the story of a juxtaposition of past and present and its successful coexistence,” says Penny.
Given the owners’ three grandchildren are often living at the home too, improving its general liveability was a major part of the design brief. “This required practical solutions to the layout along with the selection of materials and finishes. It still needed to be sophisticated for when the grandchildren weren’t visiting, but practical when they were!” says Penny.
The living area was completely redesigned, totally transforming the way the family entertain and interact. “For such a tiny footprint, we have squeezed a lot into a small space,” says Penny. The room houses Great Dane sofas, Italian floorboards by Veneto Group and a pendant light by Christopher Boots.
The new master bedroom features Osbourne & Little wallpaper, Grazia & Co mirrors, an ECC pendant and a statement armoire and bedside tables by Zuster. Andrew Martin wallpaper stars in the kids’ bedroom alongside practical, custom joinery.
“Everyone who visits the property is truly in disbelief that the architectural details are not authentically original. It is assumed that we have uncovered what had been hidden for over a century!”
Photography: Isamu Sawa