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An Award-Winning Melbourne Home Inspired By Art Deco Design


Today’s story comes via our very own Sally Tabart, and her magical internet whispering skills! Sally noticed a striking house on her daily walk into the office, popped a photo of the distinctive exterior up online and was quickly ‘INUNDATED with messages from people who knew and loved the house.’ She describes how she spent the next few weeks ‘stalking the house’ before finally getting in touch with the owner.  

After some initial reticence (understandably – an online stalker contacting you out of the blue must be a bit disconcerting, even if that stalker is our delightful Sal, who could charm the socks off anyone), the owners Annie and Peter Rose agreed to share their incredible home. The couple has lived in this two-dwelling art-deco inspired residence (which took out the residential category in the 2017 Victorian Architecture Awards) for two-and-a-half years, with their poodle Stella, sons Hugo and Fergus next door – and frequent visits from their other son Lachy, who has a music studio in the basement.

4th July, 2018

The park-side family home of Annie and Peter Rose, their three grown-up sons Hugo, Fergus and Lachy, and Stella, the 16-year-old poodle! Grey sofa chairs Annie bought 25 years ago from friend for $100 and have been re-covered three times (due to harsh treatment from three sons and a dog!). Artwork from left to right: Mirka Mora (just visible!) and two Arthur Boyd pieces. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The Tessa lounge chairs are a relic from Peter’s parents from the 60s or 70s! Artworks (left to right): ‘Dog’ by Craig Daniels, ‘St Ignatius’ by Nick Howson. Ceramics by Annie’s son, Fergus Rose. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Living room details, featuring artwork ‘Shoalhaven River with White Cockatoos’ by Arthur Boyd. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Wrapped in windows looking over a lively park in Melbourne’s inner-north, the Rose family home was designed by award-winning architects baracco+wright, with whom the family have a decade-long working relationship. Orange Danish-style dining chairs bought at a Northcote retro furniture shop 15 years ago for $30. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The music/TV room. Most of the furniture in the Rose house is second-hand – ‘I love a bargain!’, says Annie! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Annie Rose is the co-founder and director of Lift Education, a sexuality education program that runs programmes on Sexual and Social health in schools. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A kitchen with a view (!) looking out to a plant-filled balcony. Ceramics by Annie Rose. Pendant light is a discontinued style from Beacon. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The spiral staircase leading up to the roof! Artwork by Mike Chavez. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Artwork by David Larwill. Ceramics by Annie Rose. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Details of the study. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Artwork in the main bedroom by Ray Crooke. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The main bedroom featuring ample timber storage. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

One of the family’s favourite parts of the house is the view out over the park. ‘There is always something interesting to look at – the changing colours of the trees with each season, bikes cutting through the park on the bike paths, acrobats and circus performers, school sports activities, many, many, many, dogs, food vans, colourful weddings and festivals, even the yearly Wuthering Heights day, when 3,000 Cathys don flowing red dresses and converge on the gardens to pay homage to Kate Bush,’ Annie explains. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The triangular shape of the building, with its curving hit and miss brick work has a gentle nod to Art Deco design and echoes many of the buildings of this era in the suburb. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Sitting right on the edge of a popular park, the Rose House is one of the most-loved neighbourhood fixtures. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 4th July 2018

Seven years ago, Annie Rose (co-founder and director of Lift Education, a school-based sexual and social health education program) and Peter Rose (a lawyer), purchased a run-down property in Melbourne’s inner North. The house was known as the ‘railway cottage’, but Annie explains that this ‘quaint and charming’ descriptor belied the state of the property! Initially, their son Lachy and members of his band lived in the house, before Annie and Peter demolished the cottage to build their current home.  

The couple worked with architects Maura Baracco and Louise Wright, a local firm with whom the Roses have a long history. Baracco and Wright had previously designed Annie and Peter’s Mornington beach house , as well as their previous apartment interior in Melbourne’s iconic Cairo building. Originally recommended to the Roses by a mutual friend, this long standing client/architect partnership relationship was cemented over a shared love of Robin Boyd.  As well as appointing their architects, Annie and Peter engaged Julian Barlow of ATMA builders for the construction, who did an excellent job on the tricky shape of the unique home. ‘Every architect, builder, designer or trades person who has been to this house since its completion, has marvelled at the finish and craftsmanship that is evident in this build,’ Annie tells us!

Annie explained that their design brief to the architects was for a house ‘which would see us through the next steps of our lives (and hopefully forever).’ With now-adult children, the couple no longer required a large family home, nor space for games of cricket in the garden. After much consultation between clients and architects, two small, adjacent houses were designed for the irregular shaped block. The Roses are now proud owners of ‘two spacious houses and a lovely side garden on the site.’ Importantly, the house also incorporates a ‘decent sized wine cellar’ (priorities!).   

The curving front and triangular shape of the building is a tip-of-the-hat to Art Deco design, as well as settling into the aesthetic of surrounding houses in the suburb. Annie describes this generous rounded space as feeling like being on the ‘bridge of a boat’ when standing at the kitchen bench.  

The living room operates almost as a theatre-in-the-round, providing the owners with a view across ‘270 degrees, that is really beautiful whatever the weather.’ Annie describes the design as both private, and connected to the local community – including an outlook over the park where acrobats, school sports, colourful wedding and Wuthering Heights re-enactments (!!!) are all performed.

For all its wow-factor and those eye-catching curves, this home is, in fact, an understated and elegant response to an unusually shaped site. Combining two residences in one, the resulting building is both generous and practical, with the sort of enduring presence that has made it a local landmark, and we think, a future icon.

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