Matt Skinner, his wife Carly and their young kids Indi and Ned live in a very special house.
The house was designed and built in 1960 by much respected Melbourne architect David Godsell (father of Sean Godsell), as his family home. Set on an elevated block in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of Beaumaris, and constructed using brick, glass and Californian redwood, the house is designed over various levels, in response to the sloping site. Matt and Carly purchased the home from David’s widow, Terri Godsell, eight years ago, and have been fiercely passionate about preserving and restoring it ever since.
The footprint of Matt and Carly’s home and most interior details, including cabinetry, remain original. ‘We’re really trying to keep the house true to the original David Godsell design, so we have avoided any structural changes’ says Carly. The pair have undertaken cosmetic improvements only – replacing carpets and appliances in the kitchen, repainting, and replacing window dressings throughout.
Outside, a lot of landscaping work has been done, including the installation of an amazing above-ground plunge pool in the sun-drenched central courtyard (constructed from a concrete water talk!). However, by and large, the house is still very much as Godsell intended it to be. ‘The longer we live here, the less we want to do, and we’re so glad that the house remains in its original state’ Carly says.
The house is David Godsell’s earliest residential project, and exemplifies his personal design philosophy – that buildings should ‘embrace and enhance the natural beauty of their site’. Indeed, nestled amongst mature trees, with sweeping floor to ceiling windows throughout, the home certainly makes the most of its leafy surrounds and elevated outlook. It’s nice (and so rare!) to see a house dwarfed by trees, set in the middle of a generous block, enveloped by garden at both the front and rear.
Great architecture is one thing to admire from a distance, and another thing entirely to experience first hand. Living in a home like this, designed by a respected architect for his own family, offers a rare and very personal insight into Melbourne’s architectural history.
‘We obviously love David’s design, the house functions perfectly as a family home – there’s nothing ostentatious, its very understated and beautiful in its simplicity’ Carly says. For the Skinner family, Godsell’s vision is apparent everyday, in the way they use and enjoy their home, and the way this house still functions efficiently for a family of four more than fifty years after it was first built.
Matt Skinner is a brilliant and, it must be said, semi-famous sommelier and wine consultant. Matt’s brand new and very personal project is an online retail wine business called The Drinks List, which sells packs of interesting and affordable wines handpicked by Matt – shipping Australia-wide, it’s well worth a look!