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Tim Ross and Michelle Glew-Ross

Homes

Comedian, mid century design enthusiast and all round awesome guy Tim Ross makes another appearance here today, as we share the beautiful 1950’s home he shares in Sydney with wife Michelle Glew-Ross, and gorgeous kids Bugsy (three years) and Bobby (just turned one).  It’s a GEM.

ALSO – we made another VIDEO! (Be sure to scroll down to the very bottom and watch it!)

 

4th February, 2015

Classic ’50s exterior – those walls of glass!  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Master bedroom.  Coburn tapestry, Australian Cone chair by Roger McClay. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bugsys room details.  Guy Webster photo of the Rolling Stones, a poster of Easter Island (which Tim got from a trip there with his Dad.)  A French board game hung as a picture, Bugsy’s Doc Martens that he wore to meet Taylor Swift (TRUE STORY), a paper mache fox head from The Society Inc, and a vintage underwater camera from Tim’s Dad.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The Sydney home of comedian Tim Ross, his wife Michelle and their kids Bugsy and Bobby!  Above – dining area, with Grant Featherston Delma table (the sort that used to be in school libraries) and four ’60s/early ’70s chairs made by Sydney designer John Duffecy.  ‘We nabbed the chairs off our friend Patty who runs Retro On Regent‘ says Tim. The Spanish Chair in the foreground was a present for Michelle after Bobby was born, painting behind dining table by an unknown painter, picked up at The Junk Company in Melbourne. The light is a ’70s copper lamp found by Tim on the side of the road! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Family dining room with 1950’s table, colourful Eames chairs and an American Museum of Natural History Poster (New York) c1979. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Dining / living room details.  Vodder sideboard (Tim’s present to himself for his 30th!), 1960’s Israeli pottery pieces, and a sculpture by an old bloke who lives in the Hinterland near the Goldcoast (Tim can’t remember his name!).  Tim’s beloved Womb chair is in front. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bedside detail.  Coburn tapestry and stone lamp from a garage sale.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bugsy’s room.  ‘The shelf I actually put up myself (man skils) Michelle painted (woman skills)’ says Tim!  The map is of the Sydney CBD, found in an op shop. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Master bedroom, bedside details.  Danish Tallboy and industrial lamp which Tim ‘nicked’ from his Dad. Above the dresser is a Pro Hart print. ‘I filmed at his studio and interviewed his lovely wife for a TV show, and couldn’t resist the BIC Man’ says Tim. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

An assortment of toy cars that Tim and Michelle have collected on their travels. ‘The Citroens are there to remind me of my beloved DS that I sold when we started a family’ says Tim.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bobby’s room.  Kilim rug from Loom, sheepskin throw and assorted bits that Michelle has gathered over the years. ‘She knew she would spend a lot of time in this room and she has surrounded herself with things she loves in here’ says Tim.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Downstairs studio / study with two Arne Jacobsen chairs, originally from Oxford University.’  ‘The university were throwing 200 of them out’ explains Tim.  ‘A canny dealer spotted them and bought them for a pound each. Four of them made their way here, and they were a generous gift from my old radio station Nova when I left. Also pictured, my Ericson red phone, and what is that my ARIA award!! How did that get in shot?’ Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Michelle and Tim on the front porch outside Bugsy’s room. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bobby’s room, with recently salvaged safari chair.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The pool was here when Tim moved in, but the landscaping, paving and pool fence was added by Tim and Michelle after much consideration – in the end they chose to go with a frameless glass fence.  The amazing yellow pool umbrellas were sourced by Michelle online and brought all the way back from LA in their boxes by Tim after taking his comedy show, ‘Man about the House’ to the US last year.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

OK this is a bit sneaky. Long term readers might recall we have actually shared a story about this very same Sydney home a LONG time ago… but.. well, it was well before we did things ‘properly’. BY that I mean, way back in 2011 when I first met Tim, this website was a very modest little operation and we didn’t have the resources to work with professional photographers. A LOT has changed since then!

We’ve also gotten to know Tim a lot better in the last few years, and have been swept up in his complete passion for all things mid-century, which is infectious!  He has always encouraged and supported all our features on mid-century homes – in fact it was Tim’s introduction which resulted in our story about Robin Boyd’s Walsh st House in Melbourne, last year.

ANYWAY. Clearly, we decided this one was worth another look! The beautiful 1950’s home Tim shares with wife Michelle Glew-Ross and Bugsy (three year) and Bobby (one) is the stuff dreams are made of.  Aesthetically impressive, yet refreshingly relaxed, the Ross family home is a testament to the timelessness of modernist architecture.  It’s the kind of property that could easily have been knocked down, had it fallen into the wrong hands. Luckily, this house found it’s perfect match, and it’s a love affair that is still going strong, ten years on!

Tim purchased this house in 2005. ‘At the time, nobody else wanted it’ he says. Over the years, he and Michelle have restored and updated certain rooms, undertaking most of the design work and planning themselves. ‘Much to the horror of professionals I admire, I’ve trusted our own instincts with most of the changes we’ve made’ says Tim. Much of the home has been restored to its original 1959 condition, and in recent years, the garden and pool area has also been landscaped. One big consideration was working out the most sensitive way to incorporate a pool fence – in the end, frameless glass panels were used to minimise visual impact, whilst crazy stone paving was salvaged from elsewhere in the garden, and reused to build up walls around the pool and carport.

The house was originally built in 1959 for the Atherton family, and designed by their friend Bill Baker. ‘Bill was an architect and a Qantas Pilot – a multitasker like John Travolta’ Tim explains! ’On his trips to LA he was inspired by West Coast Modernism, and this house is a certainly a nod to those places he saw and admired at that time’.

The Athertons had one son, Geoff, and the home was originally built as a two bedroom house. As Geoff grew, the family extended and built a larger room for him, which is now the master bedroom. Then, in the 1960s, the Atherton family won a bit of money in the lottery and added the pool!  The original owner, Margot, is now in her 80s, and pops in occasionally.

When you chat to Tim about his passion for mid century everything, it quickly becomes clear that this is an obsession that has been bubbling since childhood. Tim’s father is an antiques dealer, which instilled in him a great respect for the provenance of things. He’s always been drawn to furniture and objects with a sense of nostalgia about them, even before he lived in a modernist house.

‘When I was a kid we had a book of Australian painters, it had a John Coburn painting on the front and it always stuck in my mind’ says Tim.  So, when he stumbled across a large John Coburn tapestry a few years ago, Tim just couldn’t let it go. This treasured piece now hangs in his bedroom.

Like so many design enthusiasts, Tim also has a thing for chairs. ‘We have a bunch of chairs that keep on giving, the green womb chair in its tatty ’60s covering has had everything chucked at it (literally) but still looks great, and is the comfiest seat in the house’ says Tim.  A more recent favourite find is the Safari chair in Bobby’s room, picked up at the Tyabb Packing House in Victoria, where Tim’s Dad still has a little stall. ‘I rolled it up and put in my bag and brought it back to Sydney as a gift for Michelle – I love it in Bobby’s room’ says Tim.

As Tim explains in the short video (!!) below, though he enjoyed this house for many years before starting a family, the home has taken on a new meaning since the arrival of Bugsy and Bobby.  ‘I think watching our boys grow up here is the most amazing thing’ says Tim. ‘Bugsy dragging me outside to have a swim, or watching the two of them laughing together in Bugsy’s room as the sun streams in is really special’.

Tim’s a funny guy.  Of course, after years of TV and radio, he has a voice that is weirdly familiar… but beyond this, he’s just the kinda guy who speaks to you as if he’s known you for 20  years.  It’s actually quite amazing.  Perhaps it’s because when he gets chatting about his home, Tim is speaking very much from the heart.  He’ll engage anyone in a lengthy chat about the curve of a particular piece of furniture, or some other minute architectural detail, and yet, at the same time, he’s a straight shooter… totally no-nonsense!

‘Well I’d be bullsh*tting if I didn’t say our aesthetic is unashamedly mid century modern’ says Tim, when asked to describe his home’s unique aesthetic.  ‘Mind you, over the years Michelle has certainly made her mark on the place, it is a little less masculine and has, well… cushions’  he says, by way of explanation!  ‘Our home is full of things that we find appealing, that strike a chord with us or that are simply beautiful. There is no doubt that our tastes have changed over time, these days the space is certainly leaning towards a more organic, handcrafted modernist vibe. That is also a result of ten years in a house, and a shifting in the way you live.’

SO GRATEFUL to Tim and Michelle for having us (twice!) and sharing their very special home! An excellent reminder of just how beautiful, functional and timeless modernist homes can be. More than fifty years after it was built, this place is still rocking it.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net