Australian Homes

Caecilia and James Potter and Family

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 17th April 2013

The incredible Hawthorn home of Caecilia and James Potter and Family.  Original Victorian facade.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Front sitting room.  ‘JJ Chairs’ from Space Furniture, 20 year old Sofa Bed upholstered in Stroheim and Romann Strie with Zoffany trim, Mountain Zebra rug from South Africa, ‘The Road’ artwork on wall over side table by Michael Peck.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

View from dining room to entrance and front door.   Original tessellated tiles, polished stainless steel Cuckoo Clock by Pascal Tarabay from Space Furniture, Bamboo chair from Meizai.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Willow display cabinet by Zuster (wallpaper inside cabinet is Cole&Son‘s Fornasetti ‘Nuvole’ wallpaper from Radford Furnishings), ‘Wenge’ Raw Steel dining table from Hermon and Hermon, Caecilias 19th century fish plate collection in vitrine and Mary McKillop cross on cabinet from Camberwell Market, with gilded French mirror.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Let me tell you a story.  A few weeks ago, Sean Fennessy and I were driving along early one morning to a shoot a house in Hawthorn.  It was the first of two shoots (we usually try and squeeze two into one day) and whilst we had seen a few impressive interior snaps of the home prior to our visit, lets just say we weren’t entirely prepared for this level of amazing!  As we drove along chatting, we passed a seriously stunning Victorian mansion, complete with tower and flagpole, and we both remarked at how impressive it was. Distracted, we soon realised we’d gone too far… so we U-turned, slowing down to look closely at the street numbers.  As we drew closer to the amazing turreted mansion we had driven past just moments earlier, we realised, THIS was the home were due to photograph.  In 3 hours.  Oh Lord.

This house is truly BREATHTAKING.  It is one of the most unique and character-filled homes we’ve had the privilege of documenting for TDF, somehow effortlessly combining a respectful nod to its Victorian heritage, with an unmistakably eclectic, contemporary  sense of style.  This fine balance can be attributed to the remarkable vision and skill of interior designer Caecilia Potter, who lives here with husband James and their kids Jasper and Cyrus, and Archie the cat.

The Potter family have lived here just 3 years, but have wasted no time updating their surroundings. ‘We had to substantially renovate as the home was in poor condition’ explain Caecilia.  The home was rewired, re-plastered, re-painted, whilst the beautiful old timber panelling, doors and staircases were painstakingly cleaned to reveal their original finishes – ‘that was about 200 buckets of water by our wonderful decorator Matthew!’ says Caecilia.  The original floors were also repaired and refinished, and bathrooms redesigned.

The gardens, though impressive in size, also presented an immense challenge. ‘The gardens were very run down, so I re-designed and landscaped, including building the natural swimming pool, designed to preserve the 120 year old peppercorn tree in the back garden’ says Caecilia.  The pool is actually a feat of engineering in itself – it is a natural freshwater pool cleaned by a system of rocks and plants, using German technology, with a 20m lap pool and 3.4m deep diving zone!  Amazing!  Not far away, a solar pergola was built just outside the kitchen, which sees daily use – ‘it’s really like another dining room’ says Caecilia.

Caecilia is a truly amazing woman, with many incredible stories to tell!  Her business is Atticus & Milo – an architecture, interior and landscape design  consultancy, currently with seven staff.   Prior to changing her career direction, she studied chemical engineering and law/arts, commencing her career in business/IT  in the 1980’s.  Years later, whilst on safari in the Okavango Delta Botswana (!!), Caecilia has what she calls ‘a career epiphany’, and decided to return to study interior design at RMIT.  Since launching her business in 1998 she’s worked on a great variety of residential projects, and Atticus & Milo has built a strong reputation for their eclecticism, warmth and individuality, combined with a love of bold colour, pattern and texture.

Caecilia has a wonderful way of describing her home. ‘We all love the sense of patina and age in our home, she is like a warm and fun old lady with a very original character’ she says! ‘We love the gardens, which I designed to be a bit Victorian in feel – rambling, bursting with variety, wonderful for cutting flowers and foliage and not overly formally landscaped… and the natural pool is a delight to swim in, just like swimming in a mineral spring as no chemicals are added.  And we love the wonderful views from the tower, for example watching the fireworks on NYE – they seem so close!  It is a fun house to share with friends and family, great for parties!’

Indeed, this is an amazing home for entertaining, and despite her busy schedule, Caecilia loves to throw a party!  In fact, during our visit, preparations were well underway for a farewell lunch for one of Atticus and Milo’s much loved staff – when we finally finished our shoot at lunchtime there were a gaggle of ladies laughing, chatting and eating amazing home cooked food outside under the pergola!  It was so lovely to work whilst delicious kitchen smells wafted through the house (and to be offered a drink whilst we worked – dangerous!) – but above all, to experience this very special home full of joy and fun and bubbly conversation.

Massive thanks to Caecilia and family for sharing their incredible home with us today!  If you love this one, do pop over to the Atticus & Milo website for a closer look at Caecilia’s other projects.

Formal dining room.   Willow display cabinet by Zuster, ‘Wenge’ Raw Steel dining table from Hermon and Hermon, 4 x Mirror hung as one found at a flea market, Dizzy dining chairs by Milk Furniture, Farahan collection hand knotted fine wool rug from Loom, Existing 18th Century 24k gilded French 12 light Chandelier.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Formal dining room.  4 x mirrors hung as one found at a flea market, Dizzy dining chairs by Milk Furniture.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

1890 Alcock Elevator Billiard / Dining Table, 1950’s Danish rosewood sideboard from Grandfathers Axe finished with Cole&Son‘s ‘Circus’ wallpaper from Radford Furnishings, Painting over sideboard – ‘God’ by Gareth Sansom, over doorway sits Jim Thalassoudis’ ‘Art Gallery of South Australia’.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Conservatory sunroom downstairs doubles as  a guest rom and art studio. Linen by Linen and Moore, stools by Tait.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Upstairs sitting room.  ‘Bang Boom’ light fitting by Ingo Maurer, sofa upholstered in a Zoffany fabric, custom cabinetry by A&M.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Master bedroom.   Main curtain fabric  ‘Glow sheer col steel’ from Roylston House, Curtain band ‘Rusca velvet col Tundra’ from Warwick Fabrics, custom made Ottoman by A&M, existing wardrobe. Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Custom made 4 poster bed designed by Caecilia with Fornasetti Cole&Son ‘Venice 82/8015’ wallpaper from Radford Furnishings.  Venetian panels as bedhead and Tolomeo aluminium reading lights from Artemide on Wenge platform base, muslin curtains from Shades of India with Caecilia’s shell trim from her treasure box!  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Master bathroom.   Curtain Fabric supplied by Mokum, Jeeves and Wooster Pendant Lights by Jake Phipps, Zuri Pearl White bath and Fantini tapware from Rogerseller.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Staircase leading up to the tower!  ‘Manuel Canovas Bengal Paprika’ wallpaper from Geraldine Cooper. Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Powder room detail.   The walls are a pumpkin and magenta custom colours, painted in a FRESCO finish by Matthew Collins Art and Interiors, white ceramic animal heads from Meizai.   Mirror found at flea market, CS Catalano basin and Fantini Milano  tapware both from Rogerseller, vanity unit was an existing commode re-painted, ‘Moooi Smoke pendant’ light from Space Furniture.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Left – powder room detail.   The walls are a pumpkin and magenta custom colours, painted in a FRESCO finish done by Matthew Collins Art and Interiors, white ceramic animal heads from Meizai.  Right – ‘Manuel Canovas Bengal Paprika’ wallpaper from Geraldine Cooper. Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Upstairs hallway and staircase.  Artwork on right side of staircase – Sun weaving by woman weavers from Yunupingu.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen – oiled American Oak benchtops, ikea cabinetry, Aga stove, Wine fridges from Eurocave.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

AMAZING freshwater swimming pool!  Caecilia designed the pool to preserve the 100+ year old peppercorn tree (seen in the next photo). It is a natural freshwater pool cleaned by rocks and plants using German technology, with a 20m lap pool and 3.4m deep diving zone.  Custom outdoor cushions in Mokum fabrics.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Natural freshwater pool  designed by Caecilia to preserve the 100+ year old peppercorn tree.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Upstairs balcony.   Black chairs from Caecilia’s student days, re-painted black, table cloth made by Caecilia from Designer’s Guild’s ‘Amprapali Peony’ from Radford Furnishings.  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Original Façade – ‘gardens a work in progress!’ says Caecilia!  Photos by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 17th April 2013


  • Gaz 4 years ago

    Whoa! I’m seriously in love with this place. Can’t believe swimming pools without chlorine exist!! The gardens are Spectacular. Great job with the interiors too! Please bring more grand old mansions like this!!

  • Gaz 4 years ago

    Just noticed the indigenous flag… These people are wonderful!!!

  • Patricia 4 years ago

    So beautiful and unpretentious. These people are clearly guided by their own inner style. If they ever need a house sitter nominate me.

  • kimberly 4 years ago

    This is the most awesome home -love the style, love the proportions, love the flashes of colour, love the pool – I have a big house crush!

  • Emma 4 years ago

    Love that they fly the indigenous flag ,beautiful home

  • Lara Cathrow 4 years ago

    Such an honest home, it looks loved and lived in! Thank you for preserving such a wonderful building with such integrity!

  • Victoria 4 years ago

    Oh my goodness!! This is by far the most amazing house you have featured Lucy!! There is not a single room or piece of furniture that I wouldn’t die to have. That pool is ridiculous!!! Wow wow wow!

  • Pamela Oberman 4 years ago

    This is serious individual style – rarely seen in such a stand out, eye catching way. Australia is right up there with global interiors – or dare I say, even a little ahead…..
    Thank you Lucy for exposing us early every morning with what we have right here in our own country
    and to have such a modern interior in an original beautiful Australian building. Top of the class today.

  • Madeleine 4 years ago

    This incredible house is on my way to school/studio every morning. We love that they fly the indigenous flag all the time, but we also love when it’s a skull and cross bones!
    And can I also just say whenever we gather up the neighborhood kids for Halloween and go trick or treating, they could not be nicer, generous or more friendlier people! Thank you all for the tour – AMAZING!

  • Simone Haag 4 years ago

    Guilty as charged! I did a sneaky walk thru during an open for inspection when this place was on the market. I can truly appreciate the talent that has been injected into this home. Love it!

  • kara 4 years ago

    A beautiful home. Love the individuality! Thank you for featuring this gorgeous home.

  • Sangi 4 years ago

    WOW. this place is amazing!

  • Amanda 4 years ago

    Wow – just wow.

    Eye candy overload – I love this house, what a treat this Wednesday morning. Will be returning to look again and again…

    The garden – my goodness…

    And then, the final picture – the Aboriginal flag flying!

    This is a beautiful shoot Lucy and Sean, thanks.

  • A Jordan 4 years ago

    Seriously amazing home … Love it.

    Fantastic that they designed around the tree so that they could preserve it

  • Donna 4 years ago

    Right… well… I’m a bit depressed now… Why don’t I live there?! Gorgeousness!! And I love that all the beautiful heritage features have been maintained. Love it.

  • Kerri 4 years ago

    An amazing house with beautiful details and design that actually look inhabited.

  • Ben 4 years ago

    I’m stoked to see this house on TDF this morning.
    It was recently open for the event which I went to.
    It was literally jam packed with hundreds of people trying to get in.
    It is truly breathtaking. The Victorian on its own is jaw dropping, but what Caecilia has done with it is just incredible. Her contemporary playfulness gives each room even more character.
    What about the study? !! That was one of my fav. rooms.
    A couple of questions for Caecilia if she would be so grateful:
    Who constructed the swimming pool?
    What is the very pale grey colour she used on the walls throughout ?

  • Poppy 4 years ago

    Gobsmacking! What a credit to them and to you for the lovely shoot. Wow factor pool … and the humility is touching, from the flag to the Ikea kitchen. Brilliant.

  • Giselle 4 years ago


  • Annie 4 years ago

    Pool drooling. ….
    No chlorine. so enviro green.
    I’m green.
    So jealous, no malice.

  • Meaghan 4 years ago

    That kitchen… Lust for life right there. Bursting with charm, character and confidence.

  • Barb 4 years ago

    The giant wine fridge, the pool, the outside, the inside, everything is PERFECT! A delightful visual feast in a grand old lady.

  • Brooke 4 years ago

    Absolutely stunning. An eclectic mix that is warm and inviting.

  • nicola 4 years ago

    Oh my goodness I love this house so much ! I have house envy big time – most importantly despite the ridiculous splendour of it all , it still looks like a home.

  • Rose 4 years ago

    Utterly amazing.

  • Katie 4 years ago

    Wow, this home is stunning! SO amazing… You often see Victorian homes like this decorated in such a stuffy way, Caecilia has brought it into the 21st century, while maintaining all those beautiful period features which give it character. 10/10!

  • Lucy 4 years ago

    i’m in love with everything about this house! so much character in every room. i want the conservatory sunroom to be mine. so jealous!

  • JuliA 4 years ago

    SERIOUS home envy right now! Thank you Lucy, for finding this one!

  • Indra 4 years ago

    Love, love, love this crazy eclectic home. The kitchen is my DREAM! Only thing that gets me is that Zebra rug. Each to their own! Keep sharing Lucy, love my Wednesday escapes!

  • Catherine 4 years ago

    Oh wow. What a slice of heaven.

  • Jo in NZ 4 years ago

    This is top notch content in every way – a gorgeous home with masses of originality and spirit ! Thanks so much.

  • Awesome house tour! It gets better and better with each shot. Absolutely love how the heritage of the home is retained, despite the eclectic style. Amazing, amazing house.

    (Totally wishing for a career epiphany, riiight about now.)

  • Edwina 4 years ago

    Congrats to the family. What a credit to them. I hope they don’t mind me stealing the sideboard with wallpaper idea- I love it.

  • love shaka 4 years ago

    This is one amazing place! From the freshwater pool to the indigenous flag flying high on the roof of this magnificent home. Thanks for sharing this Lucy

  • Paula 4 years ago

    oooh loving Jeeves and Wooster over the bath!

  • Paula 4 years ago

    oooh and the paint finish in the powder room! awesome.

  • Clare 4 years ago

    Love, love, love!!! Thanks for sharing. This is gorgeous!

  • Tan 4 years ago


  • Melissa 4 years ago

    My favourite home so far – AMAZING!!!!

  • Olivia 4 years ago

    Clearly a home and not just an orchestrated showpiece – just love it!

  • Love the indigenous flag flying high. RESPECT and so much strength of character. Great shoot guys!

  • Shelley T 4 years ago

    glorious! in all honesty, lucy, as i was looking through the images i thought to myself…’now this is a house i’d love to get rollicking drunk in….’ this is a party house, if ever i saw one! i’d walk in every room, sit in every chair, marvel over every detail…all whilst happily tipsy… love your work, doll. x

  • Claudia L. 4 years ago

    Stunning home, love it.

  • Tara 4 years ago

    Zebra hide = cruel

  • Emma 4 years ago

    That’s amazing I love it!

  • Ray 4 years ago

    OMG…This would have to be the best house ever. It looks like something in Paris! Such wonderful style and class – truly international. Love love love.

  • Jules Mackay 4 years ago

    ditto to all of the above!!! One of the most stunning homes that you have showcased – I love the beauty, ingenuity and spirit within in this home – how original and bold. So fed up with the minimalist crap and a bit of mid century furniture that everyone drools over – this is truly juicy!

  • I would move to the other side of the world for this house. It’s stunning! Great job done by the Potter family :) x Anne (NL)

  • Nora 4 years ago

    I have been interning at Atticus&Milo for the past few months and it is amazing just seeing Caecilia in action! She is so friggin talented, lovely and unpretentious! Great job with the photography Lucy!

  • Scarlet Jones 4 years ago

    This is gorgeous! Love the verandah and pool!
    Lovely photos!

  • Kendel 4 years ago

    So I just studied a little mini tripple degree, easy subjects like chemical engineering and arts/ law but then I decided to become a fabulously talented interior designer, oh but wait… Ok yep I do gardens too, amazing ones with pools that are like natural ponds. Anything else, oh yeah I do all this while I have a family.
    Is anyone else feeling like they aren’t living to their full potential after reading about Caecilla? Can she please adopt me?

  • Julie James 4 years ago

    I also went through this home recently when it was part of an open house fundraising tour. So great to revisit with with all of the amazing photos you captured Lucy! thank you!

  • DS 4 years ago

    I think this is the best house I have ever seen. So much style, class and character.

  • Caecilia Potter 4 years ago

    Thankyou Lucy, Sean and Lisa for your lovely write-up of Huntingtower in The Design Files today!  As you know at Atticus & Milo we all love TDF so it was fun to wake up to this story!  The talented Sean takes such lovely shots too.  We really enjoyed your visit home – next time you guys drop by you will have to have more than just one drink… And answer to Ben – the wall colour is one of my absolute favourites from fab Resene – 1/4 Ash, a ghostly background – and with generous dollops of the above blended with pure white – you can then splurge on pps of colour at will! The concrete shell of the pool was poured by Distinctive Pools, cheers Caecilia ps I just saw preview of Ben Quilty’s Fiji show at Tolarno wonderful with the most gorgeous colour and something has changed he is more assured / happy / strong See it opening this Saturday…

  • Jessamy 4 years ago

    This home is so amazing and perfect in every way, I can’t even imagine myself being there. Wow.

  • Annie 4 years ago


  • Pooja 4 years ago

    I didn’t get a chance to write this yesterday, I’m in awe.
    What a wonderful job the Potter family have done in preserving this place and letting nature do its thing! Thank you Lucy for showing us through such a wonderful home!
    This place is a dream!

  • Caroline 4 years ago

    I am so in love with this beautiful house, its totally unique, and inspiring.
    Would you mind Caecilia sharing where you found that amazing white rug
    in the upstairs sitting room ? Really lovely .

  • Jacqueline 4 years ago

    Wowww this is the most amazing house ever! Loving all the play between different colours, textures, and patterns throughout all the fantastic rooms/areas of the house! Thanks for sharing this amazing living place!

  • Kaz Ross 4 years ago

    stunning home, luv the Aboriginal flag, bold, luv it! Well done!

  • Pina 4 years ago

    Gorgeous house, and the interior design is such a refreshing change from all the masstige minimalist stuff that’s going on in every suburb from Toorak to Narre Warren. It’s also got a really individual, personal feel to it, again something you don’t see so much of these days. That pool is fantastic! It looks like something you’d see in far north Queensland – a natural waterpool, and so inviting. Caecilia’s taste in colour is awesome, again not the trite mass-produced colours you see on those nobodoy home renovation shows and their cheap-looking sense of ‘style’. Bravo, and congrats to the photographer – he did a great job showing the house off. Keep bringing us houses like this one – they’re out there, amongst the beige, marble and blond-wood veneers. The Potter’s house would not be out of place in a European architecutre magazine!

  • Wow! After all I got a blog from where I know how to truly obtain useful
    data regarding my study and knowledge.

  • Kate 4 years ago

    I too drive past this home often so feel like I have snuck inside for a little look – amazingling gorgeous!

    I would also love to know who did the pool?

    Thank you :)

  • Pip 4 years ago

    Love the house. Not sure though if the juxtaposition of colonial styling and indigenous flag sits so well w/ me. Irony? I’m not sure we’re quite there w/ the irony yet on this issue…

    perhaps they have indigenous heritage…

  • Caecilia Potter 4 years ago

    Hi Caroline the lambswool rug is from Ecowool in New Zealand. They use a green tanning process and will post rugs out here, they are beautiful and silky wool. My sons love to lie on it and Archie the cat loves it the most! Cheers Caecilia

  • Gem 4 years ago

    What is this mysterious German pool technology???

  • Sandi 4 years ago

    Love the last picture with the flag!

  • Amazing inside and out. Talking points and features at every turn. And I love the contrast of old and new in the kitchen. A truly remarkable home.

  • Max Bali 3 years ago

    It is commonly agreed that the dining table is the staple of any family home; a chance for hectic lifestyles to take a pause and children and parents to sit down, share a meal and gather their thoughts. In today’s modern day, technology obsessed, fast paced lifestyle; meal times are now quite easily the only time for family members to communicate with one another yet having said that it is still common for many to neglect their choice in dining furniture.;”

    Look at the most interesting posting on our own blog site

  • Annie 3 years ago

    Inspiring home, and I love the pride in flying the Aboriginal Flag. Gorgeous post!

  • Maggie 3 years ago

    The swivel/office chair in the upstairs sitting room – does anyone know who the designer is?

  • Kate Austin 3 years ago

    Gobsmackingly gorgeous. Such wonderful period details with some lovely personal modern touches. Who would ever want to leave a house like that?!

  • Caecilia Potter 3 years ago

    Hi Maggie
    They are a pair of 1960s moulded plywood Cherner chairs designed by Norman Cherner in 1958. These ones are swivel chairs which were a less common version. I love the vivid orange of the original vinyl upholstery! I am a huge fan of orange as it is such an uplifting colour. Cheers Caecilia

  • Strand 3 years ago

    Eg ynskjer ikkje skremma ved å sitta venta.. Liker S. meg?

  • Strand 3 years ago

    Game lover

  • Wow – what a home! such details – took me forever to scroll through each photo – so much to take in. What an oasis is that pool in the middle of the city!

  • Lisa 3 years ago

    Absolutely stunning, this is the closest interpretaion of my dream home.
    The character of this period home works so well with all the modern pieces throughout and I also love the use of colour, warmth, and eclectic charm expressed in each room. This home has so much personality, probably much like the owners, which to me is what a home should represent. Well done.

  • Richard 3 years ago

    I live locally to this home and it always demands my attention and is by far the best house on the street if not Hawthorn. I travel past this place every morning on the tram and I feel like a know it so well and have always wondered what it looks like on the inside. Now I know and it was nothing I could have imagined. There is a little bit of humour and quirkiness to the interiors. It’s amazing! I could go on but we’d be here for a while.

  • I constantly spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s posts all the time along with a cup of coffee.

  • 3 years ago

    Hello, just wanted to tell you, I liked this blog post. It was helpful.
    Keep on posting!

  • WAM Home Decor 2 years ago

    WOW. This Victorian style home absolutely has something for everyone to get some home décor inspiration from. Wouldn’t want to leave here!

You might also like

Cassy Morris
Tuesday 27th October 2015
Jo Hoban
Thursday 29th October 2015
by Georgina Reid
Monday 26th October 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 27th October 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 28th October 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 10th November 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 17th November 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 24th November 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Monday 2nd November 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Friday 6th November 2015