Kate Stokes and Haslett Grounds were inner-city dwellers for years before they found themselves craving a house with a couple of extra bedrooms and a garden. They spent a few years being outbid at every auction in Melbourne’s inner north, before widening their search.
‘I actually love looking at real estate, so I began to widen my search and dream of the different lives we could create’ says Kate. ‘When this house came up online I instantly fell in love, and then spent a lot of time researching the area to see if we could make it work for our lifestyle. There were way more pros than cons, so we went for it!’
Built in 1966 by revered Melbourne architect Alistair Knox, Kate and Haslett’s home is a perfect example of an ‘iconically Australian mid-century home.’ Knox was a ‘bit of a legend around that time in Eltham,’ explains Kate. ‘He was a prolific designer/builder who was eventually given an honorary Architecture degree by the University of Melbourne in 1984.’
Known as the ‘Collis House’, this property was designed and built by Knox for the Collis family, who lived here until 2015. Kate and Haslett purchased the home just two years later, in 2017.
The materials here are simple, functional and typical of the era – slate floors, timber beams and lots of glass to make the most of the greenery surrounding the house. A split-level floor plan separates living, kitchen and dining areas with bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper level. High ceilings with exposed beams give the space an open, airy feel, and trees all around ensure leafy views and dappled light through every window.
This robust modernist architectural framework has proven a perfect backdrop for Kate and Haslett’s eclectic design aesthetic. ‘Our interior vibe is very relaxed and informal’ says Kate. Her own lighting designs populate the space, alongside treasured vintage furniture, much-loved textiles, and artwork, as well as trinkets collected on overseas travels.
For Kate and Haslett, life still feels pretty bustling with two young children and two small businesses to run, but home has definitely become more of a retreat these days. ‘We spend a lot more time just hanging out here than we ever did when we lived inner city’ Kate admits. ‘Living centrally we were always pulled outside to the parks and cafes, whereas now we relish slower-paced days at home.’