We've copped a bit of flack recently for often featuring homes that perhaps appear at first glance a little 'samey'. I have taken this on board, though in our defence, when photographing Australian homes so frequently, I guess certain similarities are to be expected - after all, in major cities, many of us do tend to live in homes built in a similar era, shop at similar popular retailers, and find ourselves attracted to artwork and product created by many of the same prolific local creatives. Having said all that, I'm quietly pretty pleased to have something very different to share with you today!
This unique apartment in Melbourne's Northcote retains the grace and serenity of its former life, as The Northcote Presbyterian Church, originally built in 1894. The Church was subdivided and converted into four residences in 2001. The design work was undertaken by local architecture firm INARC Architects, who managed to retain many original features whilst creating four uniquely contemporary homes within these walls. The beautiful 2.5 bedroom apartment which we're featuring today sits at the front of the block (incorporating the old bell tower!) and belongs to Melbourne jeweller Tessa Blazey, her husband Steven Blick (owner of private hair salon Herr Blick), and Tessa's 9 year old daughter Mila.
'We were intending to convert a nearby old vinegar factory into a home, when we saw the church unit for sale about a year and a half ago' says Tessa. Spontaneously, Tessa and Steven completely changed their plans - letting the old vinegar factory go, and purchasing this apartment instead. 'We both fell in love with it' says Tessa.
The family have been here now just over a year and a half, after making a surprisingly easy transition into the space. With one bedroom and one bathroom on each floor, and a versatile open-plan mezzanine room which serves at Tessa's home studio, it's the perfect functional space for this busy creative family. 'We were very lucky as it was exactly like this when we moved in - we have only really added our things' says Tessa.
A talented couple who each run their own creative businesses, Tessa and Steven are highly visual people, and passionate collectors of beautiful things. Many of their most treasured pieces are gifts from creative friends and hold nostalgic appeal - they're particularly fond of their Japanese railway signal lamp from Grandfathers Axe, the beautiful falling zebra watercolour painting by Ness Flett (just visible at the bottom of the stairs), and their 'Source Parot' vintage poster from Galerie Montmartre hanging in the open plan living / dining area.
'It's a really beautiful building with lovely details' says Tessa of her much loved home. 'It's light and airy, and the high ceilings make the interior feel huge, when it is in fact a pretty modest footprint. The space just feels good to be in'. Indeed, there is something truly special about this space - INARC's clever conversion seems to perfectly balance the history of this building with the necessary modern elements to create a relaxed, functional family home. But despite its contemporary details, and perfect proximity to bustling High street Northcote, the Blazey / Blick family are reminded daily of this building's previous life - 'The sun projects a cobalt blue dot of light through the stained glass window, which slowly pans across kitchen every morning' says Tessa. And then, of course, there's the tower - an ever present nostalgic nod to the past - and one of the most impressive vantage points in Melbourne!
Huge thanks to Tessa, Steven and Mila for sharing their very special home with us today!