Ben Esakoff and James Vivian purchased their Melbourne inner city home on Ben’s 30th birthday (what a present!), and describe ‘we’ll never forget standing in the back garden post-auction in disbelief that this home was actually ours.’ Four years later, and the couple are still pinching themselves on their good fortune.
James comes from a family with a passion for preserving Melbourne’s architectural heritage (his mum, Kristin Stegely, is an activist in heritage protection), and this love of built history carries through to his own property. Their home was originally built in 1893 and retains many of its original features. ‘We love the blend of old and new’ Ben and James enthuse.
This balance is partly achieved through the couple’s extensive collection of contemporary Australian and international art. The cherished collection was ‘born out of the need to fill some empty spaces’, but quickly evolved into a full-blown obsession. The pair follow a gut-response strategy to purchasing, where ‘we only collect pieces that we have a chemical attraction to and cannot live without.’
In a similar fashion to the evolution of their art collection, Ben and James’ decorating style only developed once they had moved into their home. James describes ‘before we purchased the home, neither Ben or I would say we really had a personal style.’ As they inherited a renovated space, there was no need for structural changes, and the home has instead offered a fresh palette to explore their developing aesthetic.
This is a relatively small home, so it has been important to Ben and James ensure every space is functional and beautiful, with ‘no room for redundant zones.’ The pair began by introducing large furniture items from Jardan, and then seeking inspiration from their favourite stores in Melbourne (Hub Furniture, Space, Loom, Euroluce).
The couple’s own sophisticated aesthetic has been gently guided by the help of friend Zoe Murphy, who assisted with the home styling and decorating. James explains ‘there were a few bits and pieces that were out of our wheelhouse, and we appreciated someone casting their eye over the space.’ Zoe also shared James and Ben’s love of colour, which has been thoughtfully splashed throughout the home.
While Ben suggests that the best aspect of the home is its proximity to the MCG (he’s a one-eyed Demons fan…) it is clear that for both he and James, this home is genuinely cherished. Four years after moving in, they are still thrilled to walk in the door each day after work. They warmly express, ‘we’re extremely lucky and we know it.’