This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Renovated Heritage Home With Heart (and Art!)

Homes

Turning 30 can feel like a momentous moment. A step into full adulthood, equal parts exciting and terrifying. For today’s home co-owner Ben Esakoff, his 30th birthday was celebrated by purchasing a home with partner James Vivian. What a way to celebrate!

Four years on, we chat with Ben and James about developing their own distinctive style after moving into this 1890’s home, their passion for preserving architectural heritage, and their new love for contemporary art.

28th November, 2018

Inside the home of dermal therapist James Vivian and his partner, Nobody denim brand director Ben Esakoff. Here are a few of their favourite things including their marriage certificate, a mould of James’ fist (from aged 3!) and photos from the couple’s wedding. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Dining area details. Wall hanging by Ben Barretto. Painting by Tom Polo. Pukamini Pole a wedding gift from the couple’s parents. Billiani chairs. Jardan dining table. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Looking from the living/dining spaces into the bedroom. Pink armchair from Hub. Lamp from Space. Right: painting by Brent Harris. Left: photograph by Viviane Sassen. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The dining area. Wall hanging by Ben Barretto. Painting by Tom Polo. Pukamini Pole a wedding gift from the couple’s parents. Billiani chairs. Jardan dining table. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

James Vivian (left ) and Ben Esakoff (right) in front of a painting by Brendan Huntley the couple selected for their wedding registry. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The sleek kitchen, which had been fully renovated when the couple moved in. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The living room featuring a massive painting by Brendan Huntley. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Some of the couple’s favourite pieces – vase by John Booth and painting by New York-based artist, Ivy Haldeman. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

James and Ben are good friends with photographers Tom Blachford and Kate Ballis, who photographed the couple’s wedding in Palm Springs. This print above the bed by Tom Blachford represents their friendship and memories of this Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Some of the couple’s favourite pieces live in their bedroom! Left to right: Dane Lovett, Travis MacDonald and David Frank. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The couple collects art as part of a group – here is a treasured collective piece by Tom Polo. Also pictured is the famous Snoopy lamp – a gift from Ben to James as a third wedding anniversary present. Styling – Annie Portelli, Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 28th November 2018

‘We only collect pieces that we have a chemical attraction to and cannot live without.’ – Ben Esakoff and James Vivian.

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.’

This Week

News

The Annual Mud Seconds Sale Is On In Sydney This Weekend!

Shop almost-perfect porcelain Mud pieces with discounts starting from 40% off.

News

A New Series Of Paintings From An Old Favourite

Steven John Clark (aka denHolm) exhibits his first body of paintings, ‘Flowers For Gary’, exploring the imperfect, and its chall...

News

A Massive Sale Of A-List Designer Furniture Is Happening Soon!

Nab furniture, lighting and homewares from big time European designers like Ligne Roset, Duvivier + more at DOMO’s mid-year sale.
Sponsored

Shopping

A Curated Collection Of Luxury Goods From Across The Pond, Here In Melbourne

Discover the best of New Zealand fashion, lifestyle, and homewares at this inspired pop-up, until May 23rd at Chadstone.

Gardens

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Landscape Designer

We asked expert garden designers Phillip Withers, Fran Hale, Kathleen Murphy, Katy Svalbe and Richard Unsworth to demystify the process of w...

Creative People

Collecting Materials And Memories On Minjerribah With Delvene Cockatoo Collins

Quandamooka woman and artist Delvene Cockatoo Collins shares a look into her art practice, and the magical place she calls home.

Interiors

A Dark + Dingy Heritage Home Revamped In Contemporary Country Style

Interior designer Georgie Shepherd of GSiD transforms breathes new life into the interiors of this newly renovated pre-Federation villa in A...

Interiors

A Designer’s Fun, Mid-Century Makeover Of Her ‘90s Townhouse!

Studio Tate associate Liz Ryde shares her self-designed, Clifton Hill family home filled with mid-century elements and colour!

On The Market

A Huge Family Warehouse Apartment In The Heart Of Richmond

At approximately 520 square metres, this out-of-this world industrial home has got to be one of the biggest warehouse conversions in Melbour...

Architecture

A Gentle Brutalist Masterpiece In Brisbane

The Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins embraces its steep and bushy surrounds courtesy of a minimalist and raw material palette.

News

Vibes Are High At The New Hope St Radio Wine Bar!

Community, creativity and crostinis (!) are at the forefront of this design-focused wine bar and restaurant at Collingwood Yards.
Sally Tabart

Stays

A Mountain-Top Holiday Spot That Floats Above The Clouds

Cloud Parade is a design-led accommodation in the Blue Mountains, with truly sublime views over the national park.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Media Powerhouse And Ultimate Creative Slashie, Sophia Athas

The founder of digital marketing agency Hatrik House talks us through the ins-and-outs of running a successful business in your twenties!

Homes

A Dreamy, Nostalgic Family Home in Melbourne's Suburbs

Sympathetic renovations featuring recycled materials have made the 1930s Malvern East family home of Josh and Anastasia Elias even better th...

Architecture

A Contemporary Reinterpretation Of The Classic Australian Farmhouse

FMD Architects introduce their version of the classic Australian farmhouse in 'Coopworth', located on Tasmania's Bruny Island.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

Orlando Mesiti and Gregg Smith

A grand Victorian terrace home in St Kilda, decorated with restraint.
Lucy Feagins

Homes

Vaucluse Family Home

This serene family home combines Arts and Crafts and Art Deco details with a considered collection of contemporary artwork and antique furni...

Homes

A Photographer + Stylist's Vibrant Family Home

Melbourne photographer Derek Swalwell and stylist Georgia Young’s modernised 1960s family home in Elsternwick.

This Week

Interiors

A Designer’s Fun, Mid-Century Makeover Of Her ‘90s Townhouse!

Studio Tate associate Liz Ryde shares her self-designed, Clifton Hill family home filled with mid-century elements and colour!

On The Market

A Huge Family Warehouse Apartment In The Heart Of Richmond

At approximately 520 square metres, this out-of-this world industrial home has got to be one of the biggest warehouse conversions in Melbour...

News

Vibes Are High At The New Hope St Radio Wine Bar!

Community, creativity and crostinis (!) are at the forefront of this design-focused wine bar and restaurant at Collingwood Yards.
Sally Tabart

Creative People

Collecting Materials And Memories On Minjerribah With Delvene Cockatoo Collins

Quandamooka woman and artist Delvene Cockatoo Collins shares a look into her art practice, and the magical place she calls home.

Stays

A Mountain-Top Holiday Spot That Floats Above The Clouds

Cloud Parade is a design-led accommodation in the Blue Mountains, with truly sublime views over the national park.

Architecture

A Gentle Brutalist Masterpiece In Brisbane

The Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins embraces its steep and bushy surrounds courtesy of a minimalist and raw material palette.

Architecture

A Contemporary Reinterpretation Of The Classic Australian Farmhouse

FMD Architects introduce their version of the classic Australian farmhouse in 'Coopworth', located on Tasmania's Bruny Island.

News

A Massive Sale Of A-List Designer Furniture Is Happening Soon!

Nab furniture, lighting and homewares from big time European designers like Ligne Roset, Duvivier + more at DOMO’s mid-year sale.
Sponsored

Gardens

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Landscape Designer

We asked expert garden designers Phillip Withers, Fran Hale, Kathleen Murphy, Katy Svalbe and Richard Unsworth to demystify the process of w...

News

The Annual Mud Seconds Sale Is On In Sydney This Weekend!

Shop almost-perfect porcelain Mud pieces with discounts starting from 40% off.

Shopping

A Curated Collection Of Luxury Goods From Across The Pond, Here In Melbourne

Discover the best of New Zealand fashion, lifestyle, and homewares at this inspired pop-up, until May 23rd at Chadstone.

Interiors

A Dark + Dingy Heritage Home Revamped In Contemporary Country Style

Interior designer Georgie Shepherd of GSiD transforms breathes new life into the interiors of this newly renovated pre-Federation villa in A...

News

A New Series Of Paintings From An Old Favourite

Steven John Clark (aka denHolm) exhibits his first body of paintings, ‘Flowers For Gary’, exploring the imperfect, and its chall...

Homes

A Dreamy, Nostalgic Family Home in Melbourne's Suburbs

Sympathetic renovations featuring recycled materials have made the 1930s Malvern East family home of Josh and Anastasia Elias even better th...

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Media Powerhouse And Ultimate Creative Slashie, Sophia Athas

The founder of digital marketing agency Hatrik House talks us through the ins-and-outs of running a successful business in your twenties!

Similar Stories

Homes

Orlando Mesiti and Gregg Smith

A grand Victorian terrace home in St Kilda, decorated with restraint.
Lucy Feagins

Homes

Vaucluse Family Home

This serene family home combines Art Deco details with contemporary artwork and antique furniture.

Homes

A Photographer + Stylist's Vibrant Family Home

Melbourne photographer Derek Swalwell and stylist Georgia Young’s modernised 1960s family home in Elsternwick.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.