This Abandoned and 'Unloved' Artist's Retreat Became a Serene Family Home

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When someone says a house is "unloved," it tends to make us a bit verklempt. But that's exactly how designer Karine Szekeres of Templeton Architecture described an old artist's retreat in East Melbourne: unloved.

Built in 1862, the house had had no permanent dwellers for over four decades, and was in desperate need of improvement.

Before this renovation, the Georgian-influence home's last interior upgrade dated back to the 1950s. For a design untouched for nearly half a century, there were advantages, but they came with challenges. Because of its varied history, some elements of the home, like the heritage-protected wallpaper, were untouchable. In order to balance the historic wallpaper with the new interior, the firm worked to find furnishings that complemented the print. "The careful selection of materials, fabrics, and furniture either enhanced the best qualities of the existing wallpaper or distracted from the worst," Szekeres said.

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Living Room

It was important to keep elements of historical integrity, so the architects chose to preserve the original fireplace, which features a blue stone hearth. A classic shaker dining table with a marble top works to blend the past with contemporary design.

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Living Room

Other furniture pairings also go for a past-present mashup, like this Italian-designed sofa placed next to a vintage side table. On the wall, a Trapeze sconce by Apparatus glows within two balancing hand-cast porcelain bowls.

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Living Room

A Roattino floor lamp by ClassiCon illuminates the details of the home's historic (and heritage-protected) wallpaper. A classic Moller chair complements a vintage bar.

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Kitchen

The kitchen feels fantastically zen with its abundance of light, and pairing of white with textures that feel ultra-natural (tiles that mimic stone, marble, and an adorable wood built-in for the kids).

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Kitchen

The minimalist kitchen also relies on a mixing of subtle metal elements — from the brass outlet covers to the drawer pulls — to create a timeless design.

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Dining Area

A custom-made wine rack provides the perfect storage place for the client's wine collection. Above the dining table, a chandelier by Apparatus is hand-cast in porcelain and echoes the sconces in the living room.

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Dining Area

A sharp departure from its darker Edwardian-influenced roots, Dulux's White Duck wall paint works to open up the space by reflecting natural light. Recycled baltic pine flooring with a lime wash brings a rustic feel to the space.


After interning at Dwell magazine in San Francisco, Kate began writing about arts, design and culture for other national publications. She is based in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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