Madeleine is an ex-journalist, stylist, crafter and proprietor of Do Re Me – a versatile creative business which has seen her run craft workshops and host craft-based activations for a range of clients including South Melbourne Market, Chadstone Shopping Centre and more. Madeleine’s husband Jeremy is a surgeon. A home with enough space for their four growing girls was not easy to find, so when they came across this generously proportioned 5 bedroom modernist home in Caulfield 3 years ago, their decision was made. The family moved in in July 2011.
‘When we bought this house it was a serious beige and apricot explosion on EVERY single surface’ says Madeleine. She and Jeremy knew the home needed updating a little before moving in, but were keen to avoid taking on major renovations. They set about refreshing the interior colour scheme, bringing most of the interior walls back to white. This including painting out the floorboards in the front room – ‘it seemed like a crime at the time, but the white really works well with all the colour in there now’ says Madeleine.
Elsewhere, the original parquetry that runs through most of the ground floor was polished, carpet in the bedrooms and study replaced, and heavy curtains removed to let the light in, and celebrate the home’s beautiful big windows. ‘We called the house ‘Casa del Sol’ because it is constantly bathed in light, and in our family travels through Mexico we love the laid-back, light-filled casual and family-centric living spaces we experienced, so we’ve tried to capture some of that here’ explains Madeleine.
There’s something refreshingly functional and no-nonsense about Madeleine’s approach to styling her home. She’s an intuitive decorator with a great sense of style, but she’s not a perfectionist, she’s happy to mend and make do, and has done her best to make the most of the home’s existing features. She also has an impressive (compulsive!?) knack for uncovering op shop treasure and re-vamping hard rubbish finds! ‘We’re big on reclaiming and reinventing – so much of what we have done is low-cost cosmetic refurbs rather than totally replacing, and we’ve tried to retain the integrity of the house without compromising our own aesthetic’ she says.
But Madeleine’s ‘hands down’ favourite elements here are a selection of pieces she fortuitously managed to salvage from her late Father’s home nearby. By pure chance, a friend recently bought Madeleine’s childhood home in East St Kilda. Before renovating, she generously allowed Madeleine and family the gift of ‘open picking’ on the house before it was demolished for redevelopment! Here Madeleine salvaged a number of vintage fittings and building materials – including the original Castlemaine slate that was once her Father’s front steps and rear patio. These beautiful, multi-hued pavers now adorn the Grummet family’s new outdoor fireplace. ‘I hacked this up piece by piece, and my talented brother Dan and I constructed the fireplace over some long days of loud music and reminiscing (my Dad died 2 years ago)’ explains Madeleine. Meanwhile, Madeleine’s Dad’s much-swung front gate is now her side gate, the family have gorgeous succulent-filled, mid-century pots in the garden that were once her Grandfather’s pride and joy, and the house is now illuminated by amazing atomic saucer lights salvaged from the ceilings of her Dad and Aunt’s childhood bedrooms! ‘I’m a sentimental gal – and a bit of a bower bird clearly – but the chance to let these parts of provenance (and fab design) live on in our lives is really special’.
Other favourite pieces for Madeleine include her ad-hoc collection of beautiful artwork – including much loved sculptures by her kids, anonymous pieces scoured from second hand shops, alongside the work of collectible local artists. One particularly treasured piece is ‘Home Coming’, a watercolour and acrylic work on paper by local artist Luisa Rossitto. ‘I bought this for its quirk, vibrance and the ballsy, incongruent sheer kitsch of it all – and I love that it celebrates women – albeit in a troppo way!’ says Madeleine. ‘The colours are seriously amazing and burst off the wall, and it makes a great talking point at dinner parties!’ The ‘Memento Mori’ neon piece that sits above the piano in the front room is a favourite newly installed piece which Madeleine commissioned last year after the sudden death of her Dad. ‘Jeremy and I love a bit of philosophical banter, and this ancient phrase really resonated’ explains Madeleine. ‘Memento mori is a phrase that originated in ancient Rome – translated literally it means ‘remember (that you have) to die’. The meaning of this phrase is not as morbid as it may first appear – for Madeleine and Jeremy it’s a reminder and that life is short and therefore for living thoughtfully and consciously, every step of the journey.
Huge thanks to the Grummet Family for sharing their amazing home with us today!