Built in the late 1960’s, the apartment of Melbourne artists Meredith Turnbull and Ross Coulter in Balaclava is BIG. The home comprises two generous living spaces, the biggest kitchen I have ever seen (in either a house or an apartment!), a dining room, 4 bedrooms (two are used as studio / workspaces), an entrance foyer and a lush private patio garden. Once inside, it really doesn’t feel like you’re in an apartment at all.
Meredith and Ross live here with their gorgeous five month old daughter Roma, and have been here for two and a half years. When they took possession of the apartment, they also bought number of key furniture pieces from the previous owners, resulting in a lovely and somewhat unexpected mish mash of older style furniture and contemporary details, alongside an impressive collection of artwork by creative friends and contemporaries.
Though they have have retained many of the original 60’s features here, such as the glam lighting fixtures, kitchen and bathroom cabinetry and carpet throughout, some things did have to go! The bedrooms, living areas, bathrooms, laundry and the foyer were all heavily wallpapered when Meredith and Ross moved in – they stripped most of this wallpaper back themselves, and had most rooms painted white.
The pair designed a floor to ceiling bookshelf for the living room, which was built by Meredith’s cousin John Sweeney, a builder/carpenter. One particularly clever addition was the art shelf, which spans two walls in the second living area – an ideal flexible solution to display the pair’s ever growing collection of art and collectible objects.
Many of Meredith and Ross’s possessions are time-honoured pieces with real sentimental value – there is very little ‘brand new’ about this apartment. ‘We have combined inherited with new furniture, op shop and vintage finds alongside things we have built or made ourselves’ says Meredith of her eclectic home. ‘We have bentwood chairs with late sixties brocade couches. We love books, indoor plants and are always rotating and featuring our growing collection of artworks by friends and artists we love’.
The kitchen table is a particular favourite, an early 1960’s patterned laminex table with brass legs which was inherited from Meredith’s paternal Grandfather. The large white glass-topped coffee table is also a treasured piece, originally made by Ross for an exhibition he curated which featured artwork by both Meredith, Ross and their friend Sean Peoples at Sutton Project Space – the table is a nice remnant of that show, and has been with Meredith and Ross ever since.
With so many artworks by friends and collaborators represented here, its hard for Meredith and Ross to single out ‘favourites’ from their collection, but one particularly treasured piece is a diptych of contemporary Adam and Eve figures by their friend, local artist Michael Ciavarella. A Steven Rendall painting called ‘Succulent’ from 2006 is another much loved piece, having been included in Meredith’s first curated exhibition.
It’s so lovely that we’re beginning to see more and more late ‘60s and ‘70s homes being cherished and preserved in this way. As this apartment clearly demonstrates, there is so much to love about homes of this era, with their quirky original features, generous proportions, floor to ceiling windows and bucketloads of natural light. ‘We love the original features, especially the tiles in the kitchen and the vanities in the bathrooms’ say Meredith. ‘It’s also a great family home because careful consideration has been given to both the shared and private spaces, and it’s easy to close a door and have some quite time or a room to yourself’.
Huge thanks to Meredith and Ross and Roma for sharing their inspired home with us today.