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James Tutton

Homes

James Tutton is a social entrepreneur with a restless, creative mind. After founding Melbourne’s Moonlight Cinema in 1996 (and selling it in 2006) James turned his attention to a range of social and business ventures. He is director at design-driven property development company Neometro, co-founder of not-for-profit meditation app Smiling Mind, and more recently has launched The Plato Project – a business school which fosters entrepreneurship driven by both financial and social value.

James has also recently finished renovating a truly spectacular Victorian home in Coburg, elegantly executed by Clare Cousins architects. Total dream house material.

17th May, 2017

James Tutton’s two-storey Victorian mansionette in Coburg, built in 1890. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The main lounge area featuring chair from DOMO, marble coffee table by B&B Italia, drum from Byron Bay, Melinda Harper artwork, David Rosetzky photography from Sutton Gallery and Remi record – James is a fan! Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The open-plan lounge from the kitchen and dining area. The design integrates the front garden and the rear (north-facing garden and swimming pool) providing cross ventilation and natural light. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The open-plan lounge from the kitchen and dining area. The design integrates the front garden and the rear (north-facing garden and swimming pool) providing cross ventilation and natural light. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Dining table by Mark Tuckey and Thonet chairs. ‘I think it’s a versatile space, it’s quite informal and in immediate proximity to the kitchen, so it works as a family area and large dinner space,’ details James. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The kitchen with custom cabinetry, in Dulux Great Void. ‘I’m a blue person, it’s my favourite colour and it contrasts well with the light-coloured marble,’ explains James. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The downstairs hallway (between living rooms). ‘I’m indiscriminate!’ says James of his thrifted pots. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Mark Tuckey sofa and coffee table, with leather chair from Hub Furniture, B&B Italia marble coffee table from Space Furniture, and Rug from Loom. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Secondary living area downstairs, which leads out to decking, a fire pit and the picket fenced pool. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

‘The shelf is literally breeze blocks with timber, which I’ve had and finished off and limed. It comes apart,’ explains James. An ornamental KISS-style guitar from when James was little and mirror from Cult. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Together with architect Clare Cousins, James has modernised the interiors (painted here in Dulux Whisper White), although the original stained-glass windows remain. Artwork by Kate Beynon from Sutton Gallery and Buddha sculpture purchased in a garage sale. ‘I’ve had an ongoing fascination with things Buddhist, and that has hung around my home for the last 20 years,’ says James. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The upstairs landing, just outside the master bedroom. The ladder came with the house, and there are photos are of James’ home in Byron, as well as a woven bench seat and Hans Wegner chair, both from and  Great Dane Furniture. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

In the secondary living area (painted in Dulux Ellen quarter strength), artwork by Dale Frank, and table from Dedece with Charles Eames chairs. ‘It’s a great table to read a newspaper at or where the kids can to do craft projects,’ says James. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The master bedroom looking through to walk-in-robe. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The curtains are Belgian linen and the contemporary fireplace design is by Clare Cousins. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The master bedroom with bed from Hub Furniture, marble bedside table from Dedece, and lamp from Cult. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Downstairs powder room with floor-to-ceiling wall tiles. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

James Tutton pictured on the upstairs landing of his Coburg home. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 17th May 2017

James Tutton is full of surprises. After having lived for many years on the Mornington Peninsula (in a beautiful home we featured here), two years ago he purchased a huge Victorian mansion in Coburg, enlisting local architect Clare Cousins to design a considered renovation and update.

The move to Melbourne’s North wasn’t exactly planned. ‘I was actually looking at a development site and happened to park nearby and saw it was for sale…’ recalls James. He purchased the property somewhat spontaneously – but when James sets his mind to something, the results are bound to impress.

Clare Cousins and her team retained key period features, but gutted much of home, re-designing the kitchen and bathrooms, and softening the interiors with lime-washed floors and a beautiful muted palette of blues, greens and soft pinks. ‘Floor finishes, light fittings, robes, the laundry, you name it… there is not really a surface in there that has not been touched’ James explains.

The gardens, too, received an extensive overhaul, with James installing a swimming pool and half pipe for his teenage kids (who split their time between Coburg and the family farm in Mornington).

With a long-held affinity for Victorian homes, James was drawn to the scale of this historic mansion house. ‘There is volume in terms of ceiling height, which you just don’t get in a modern home,’ James explains. ‘The connection to nature if you live in the city is rare and it’s hard to get outdoor space… this home gives us that.’

James has a discerning eye for art and design. He loves colour, interesting design pieces and contemporary art. His most treasured possessions include his son’s much loved skateboard decks, music-related paraphernalia (including photographs of The Beastie Boys and Nick Cave) and an impressive art collection which includes works by Polly BorlandKate Beynon and Dale Frank. The leather khaki couch from Space is James’ most loved furniture piece – ‘It’s been a part of my life for a very long time, around 10 to 15 years, so it’s a bit special,’ James says.

There’s something quietly remarkable about the refurbishment of this home. Though impressive in scale and finish, and surprisingly brave in its use of colour, the interiors here feel relaxed and understated. ‘It’s quite soft and worn, not as in worn out, but you don’t see shiny glossy surfaces here’ James muses. ‘I just kind of wanted to build a home that was reasonably relaxed,’ he explains. Nailed it.

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