After the amazing house tour of Darren’s Mid Century Modern House in San Diego today we cross few continents to land in Melbourne, Australia to another Darren house.
Today’s Darren is one of you that just emailed me about his amazing mid century modern house in Melbourne that -of course- I had to publish!
The most interesting thing that came out from this interview is that I did not know any of the Australian architects mentioned by Darren and that I almost ignored the existence of a significant mid century modern movement somewhere else than in California and Europe.
If also you leave in a mid century modern house and want to share it with us, just drop me a line to: marco(at)mid-century-home.com !
I want to hear your opinion about Darren’s house so, don’t forget, to leave your comment at the end!
Hi Darren, tell us a bit about you and the story of your house. How long are you living there and was it already like this when you moved in?
My house is situated in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield which is one of the principal areas of the city for Mid Century Modern architecture. Melbourne has a number of pockets where these fabulous houses can be found. In the inner south east there’s the pocket in the Caulfield, Elsternwick and East St Kilda areas. In the east of the city they can be found around Kew, Balwyn and Templestowe, while bayside in the south there are a number of great examples in Brighton, Black Rock and Beaumaris.
My house was built in 1963, designed by an architect named Phillip Mann who is not as much a “household name” as recognized Australian Modernist architects such as Robin Boyd and Roy Grounds.
Just eight years later it underwent a small renovation which saw the backroom added on, which is now my sunroom featuring the blue-coloured cane setting. The fibreglass pool was put in at the same time, and that’s the one that’s still there over 40 years later!
The previous owners (after the original ones) did some more work to the house I estimate around a decade ago. This involved opening up the kitchen area and making it more open plan with the larger meals area. They also rejuvenated the bathrooms and added the decking around the pool above the original pebble-mix finish.
I was looking for a Mid Century Modern style house for around two years before this one came up. Now three years later, I have not done much to it all. Luckily the house has remained “unmolested” all these years, and where changes have been made, they have been sympathetic to the style.
So far all I have done is change a few light fittings and tidy up the garden with some new plants and stone landscaping. Naturally, I moved in all my existing Mid Century Modern-style furniture and accessories from my previous home, and then have added to the collection since to achieve what you see in the photos.
Which are the 3 biggest challenges and advantages of living in a mid century modern house?
One of the biggest challenges is getting tradesmen in to do anything to the house as being so original, you really don’t want anyone making a mess of anything, so there’s always a degree of nervousness. -Marco: Funny how the owner of last week’s house tour said the same -
Along the same lines, finding other bits and pieces to replace anything that may break can be a challenge for a house built around 50 years ago.
The other challenge is keeping the house warm in winter and cool in the hot Australian summers due to all the glass. The flat roof also doesn’t help in that regards, so the gas and electricity bills can be quite high!
On the plus side, the large expanses of glass are fantastic as they bring so much light to the house and give it a real indoor-outdoor feel. The garden is also quite low maintenance with all the desert-style succulent plants needing very little watering.
Another interesting advantage is the uniqueness of the design, which makes it a great party place, and also a location for photographic shoots and filming, with a number of advertisements and period TV shows having been shot at the house.
Which architectural elements do you like the most of your house?
As I mentioned earlier, the expanses of glass are great to bring the sunlight in, especially with the house designed around a courtyard.
The rooms are all quite big in size which is another major attraction.
The house also sits elevated from the street, giving it great appeal and creating a grand impression as you approach, along with the huge span of the carport. This then leads to the gate which brings you to the courtyard and then striking front door – all superb elements that work seamlessly together.
Where did you buy the furniture?
The furniture in the house comes from a variety of sources. There are a number of great vintage furniture shops in Melbourne, so many pieces have been bought from them. The bed setting and the lounge suite though are “new” as I did have a vintage Danish Deluxe lounge setting previously but wanted something very comfortable and large as there is a huge area to fill there.
Most of the wall art I have collected over a number of years, but the Slim Aarons photo of the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs – that sits in the sunroom – I put together myself.
I was in Palm Springs this year and cruised all the mid century modern furniture shops there, bringing a few pieces back with me. Other small ornaments and accessories I inherited from my grandmother, but a large majority have been found on Ebay over the years. That includes my most recent, and one of my proudest acquisitions, the sexy and slender brass table lamps in the main bedroom.
Is there a specific designer from the mid century that inspires you?
I can’t say that any one designer truly inspires me, but I am proud of Australian designers (such as the architects mentioned earlier) as they were at the cutting edge of Modernist architecture as it happened.
I like the work of all the major designers, especially the Palm Springs crew comprising notables like Neutra, Cody, Frey, Jones, Wexler, Williams and especially Lautner who earns extra points with his Elrod house having been used in the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever”.
If you had an unlimited budget, which design piece of furniture would you buy?
I am not a big shopper for “names”, but I think it would be an original of one of Finish designer Eero Aarnio’s chairs – either the ball or the bubble. I’m not sure where in the house I could fit it, but they are just such iconic pieces that symbolize the era like nothing else.
Otherwise, if I really wanted to go all out, maybe an original Warhol would be nice!