It’s not often we feature a family home of 20 years. Today’s house in Toorak is one such well loved home. It belongs to Jeff Provan of NEOMETRO and his wife Mariko. Until five years ago, it was also home to the couples’ two grown up daughters, Nina and Hana, who have since flown the nest!
Jeff Provan has design and construction in his blood. Day to day, he is design director of NEOMETRO in Melbourne, a respected design, construction and property development company he co-founded in 1985. Jeff is responsible for the design side of his business, and has always had an intuitive understanding of what makes a great home. He also comes from a family of builders – as a 4th generation builder himself, he recalls always being on building sites as a child ‘helping’ his father from as early as five years old! He later went to study civil engineering, and worked as one for a few years before returning to his interests in design and construction.
Jeff and Mariko’s home was designed and built by NEOMETRO in the mid 90’s. Though it has been updated a little over the years, the bones of the home bear many of the design hallmarks NEOMETRO have since become known for – particularly the use of materials in their natural state, such as raw concrete, natural hard plaster, sawn bluestone and timber. Recently, the family have invested in a few contemporary updates, such as the herringbone brick floors (which replaced polished concrete in the dining / family room) and a few modern finishes including new carpets in the bedrooms, new door hardware and taps, to ‘tidy the place up’.
With a distinctive, understated aesthetic that still feels fresh and contemporary 20 years on, this home is a testament to Jeff’s approach to architecture and design. Having been in the business of creating clever and beautiful homes for 30 years now, Jeff is a sage and thoughtful designer, with a great amount of wisdom to share on the subject!
‘There are so many things that can be added to a home, but knowing when to stop makes all the difference. It’s what you leave out that makes good design’ – Jeff Provan.
Jeff is also passionate about the connection and juxtaposition of interiors with outside spaces. Many of his projects, including this one, have subtle references to Japanese design. Japanese homes are designed with equal emphasis on both interior and outside elements, and Jeff has a great deal of respect for this approach. Mariko is from a little town 1.5 hours outside of Tokyo, and the pair try to get back as often as they can.
Another element inspired by Mariko’s Japanese heritage is the Provans’ slatted cedarwood front door. ‘Mariko’s father in Japan built their small house, and every time we visit I am reminded of the simplicity and functionality that can be achieved through good design’ says Jeff. ‘They had these rice paper screens that he made, and the light projected through them in the afternoon was very soothing. while the Cedar is not rice paper, it does allow light to pass through and creates a very welcoming entrance’.
That’s the thing about Jeff, he’s all about the little details. ‘A home or apartment needs to feel really good from the start, even from when you touch the door handle’ he says. ‘Layering all of these subtle 1% considerations can add 30% to the feeling of a home, and the general well being of the house’.
For a glimpse at the world through Jeff’s eyes (!!), check out his snaps on instagram at @openjournal_neometro – a unique perspective on urban Melbourne.