Adriana Hanna and Arthur Gouvousis bought their home in Preston nine years ago. Arthur had been searching for properties in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne where he grew up – and when he stumbled across this large 1930s ‘Tudor revival’ home, the pair were sold. ‘Safe to say it was the details, such as the lead light windows, spiral stair case, expressed chimney, sweeping gables and the window seat which we were completely enamoured by’ Adriana says. The pair purchased the home, and four years later, were joined by twin daughters Hanna and Yvonne (now 5 years old).
So far, Adriana and Arthur have made only superficial changes here – painting the home inside and out, sanding and polishing timber floors, reinstating original fireplaces, and replacing picture rails. They’ve also added hydronic heating and a 7.5kw solar system which Arthur proudly designed and installed to offset the energy consumption of the house. Almost all the improvements so far have been undertaken by Arthur and Adriana themselves, over many weekends and late nights.
Rather than trying to make a contemporary architectural statement and stripping the home of its character, Adriana and Arthur have embraced the charm of their house. They still have grand plans for bigger renovations – next on their agenda is landscaping the back garden, followed by renovating the bathrooms and kitchen, and updating windows and floors. Though, they’re in no great rush. ‘With a growing family and changing needs, the house will probably never be finished’ admits Adriana. ’Personally, I don’t think I could keep everything the same, I need flexibility in the space I inhabit. So until we can tackle the bigger projects, we rely on furniture and objects to reflect our personality’.
When it comes to decorating, Adriana is bold and intuitive. She enjoys juxtaposing contemporary pieces with the original fabric of the home, and her skill at sourcing and bringing together varied contemporary furniture pieces with classic lighting, artwork, ceramics and plant life is demonstrated in every room. ‘I’m most attracted to the materiality of a piece, be it the texture of timber, velvet or pottery’ Adriana says.
Aside for her passion for all things textural and handcrafted, Adriana also has a thing for lighting. ‘I have a keen interest in lighting and have collected a handful of my favourites from designers such as Tobia Scarpa, Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson, Fog & Morup, Celine Wright; at night they all take on a different persona and transform from sculpture to functional pieces’ she enthuses. ‘They enhance the entire house, they provide a warmth and ambience that could never be replicated by a down light. You can never underestimate the importance of lighting.’ Not surprisingly, Adriana’s favourite time to be at home is the evenings!
When asked to describe her home’s aesthetic, Adriana is thoughtful. ‘I suppose there is a real risk in a design professional presenting their house, as it can easily be mistaken for the aesthetic of their work and can appear singular’ she says. ‘My house is not a project, and I haven’t put it together this way to reflect who I am professionally’. Indeed, despite the very carefully considered details here, and Adriana’s impressive design credentials, this is a home that feels fluid and real and very relaxed. Above all, it’s a beautiful, liveable space, unencumbered by the expectation of having to be ‘finished’.
‘We don’t actively pursue a certain style’ Adriana says. ‘Our house is a platform where we can explore ways to satisfy both my insatiable visual appetite, and our family as it grows’.