There are a handful of buildings in Melbourne with a certain magic about them. The Beverley Hills apartment building in South Yarra is one such edifice. There’s something truly unique about this grand residential building, with its Spanish / Moorish detailing, lush gardens and stuccoed walls. Having been home to a number of amazing creative and famous people over the years, The Beverley Hills building channels a kind of ‘Chateau Marmont’ LA vibe. It’s like no other building in Melbourne.
The Beverley Hills apartment buildings are curious, full of character, and to be honest, a little out of place. Situated on the banks of the Yarra River, with Melbourne’s gleaming city skyline beyond, these buildings channel a kind of faded Hollywood glamour, and are often the subject of intrigue for passers by, inspiring a certain level of curiosity about those who might live here, and the stories from bygone years which might have unfolded within these walls.
Constructed by architect and developer Howard Lawson between 1935 and 1936, the Beverley Hills complex comprises two separate buildings, and as the name suggests, the development has a distinctly international flavour, referencing a 1930’s Hollywood / Spanish revival aesthetic, with ornate stairwells and windows, almost gothic detailing and stuccoed walls. With an impressive outdoor pool and lush gardens overflowing with palms, vines and creepers, this is about as close as Melbourne gets to LA, or perhaps even Barcelona, aesthetically speaking.
Young couple Ellie King (an illustrator, designer and proprietor of online shop Pieces 4 Places) and her partner Cale Sexton, a musician, have lived in this apartment for just four months. They took over the lease from close friends, who actually moved into another apartment in the same building. It’s not uncommon, when apartments become available here, for them to be quickly snapped up via word of mouth, or for tenants to move from one apartment to another. ‘Beverley Hills is definitely a place where it helps to know someone that lives here if you what to rent a place’ says Ellie. ‘It’s run by a wonderful man named Don. You gotta get past him if you want to make it in!’
Ellie is a versatile and entrepreneurial creative, she’s an illustrator and designer, and also creates her own intricate and irreverent hand embroidered artworks and homewares under the name Rittle. She also has a special gift for sourcing the most weird and wonderful vintage textiles, ceramics and art, hence the recent launch of her online store, Pieces 4 Places.
At home, Ellie’s most treasured possessions include the large Matlok Griffiths painting above her bed. It holds fond memories and makes her feel somewhat ‘grown up’.
‘The painting was found through my good friend Lou’s gallery, Chapter House Lane, which was right next to a cafe I used to have in the city’ explains Ellie. ‘CHL is a non for profit gallery that Lou has been running for around 4 years. I was living in an apartment in the city for the first time by myself, and wanted to feel grown up and start an art collection, so I started with the biggest piece of his that I could find. Matlok is an amazing Melbourne-based artist so I’m very proud to have one of his pieces above my bed!’
Having been here for just four months, the novelty of living in this iconic building has yet to wear off for Ellie and Cale. ‘It feels like you are on holiday in another country!’ says Ellie. Aside from the unique character of the building itself (not to mention that incredible pool!), the community here is very much at the heart of what makes these apartments special. ‘We have excellent neighbours that lend you blenders when you want a smoothie but are too cheap to go out and buy one’ Ellie confirms. It’s unanimous then!
Huge thanks to Ellie and Cale (and Don!) for letting us photograph and share their very special home.