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.