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A Magical Inner City Treehouse

Homes

‘Right now as I write this I am upstairs in my study looking at the bright green leaves of the Elm tree. Murray and I were particularly worried about this tree as its trunk is so close to the house.  Murray designed a special floating slab to be near the tree and the builders tried very hard to protect it. It survived and it provides shade in the hot summer now and then when it loses its leaves again in the Autumn it will allow the warm winter sun to come in.’

It only seems fair to let Fleur Glenn introduce her magical treehouse in her own evocative words! This home is a rare gem, and the tale of Fleur working with architect Murray Barker to design this sanctuary will warm the cockles of your heart. Read on to discover how Murray delivered a sleek and modern treehouse, which perfectly caters to Fleur’s book filled and tree-lined life.

23rd January, 2019

The very special Clifton Hill home of Fleur Glenn, designed by friend and architect Murray Barker. The pieces on the wall were made by Fleur when she studied art/textiles at the old Preston Institute (now RMIT Bundoora). ‘I made my own felt and paper and stitched on things I collected on walks’, Fleur tells. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View from the dining to the living room and front garden. Wall lights are Artemide Dioscuri 140 from Artemide. Living room pendant light is Muuto Fluid pendant light (large) from Surrounding. Artwork on the wall is ‘Makeshift Jockey’ by Lucas Golding. Oar on the wall was brought home on a plane from Brunswick Heads by Fleur’s daughter three years ago. The grandfather clock belonged to Fleur’s father, who died six years ago at the age od 100. ‘I love the sound of it chiming, although it is very loud in my small house’ Fleur says. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View of the bookshelves which continue up the staircase. The natural, oiled timber column is visible in front. Fleur, Murray and their builder Hamish traveled to the timber yard together to pick out their favourite. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘I found this old printer’s tray years ago at the Camberwell Market’, tells Fleur, ‘it’s been fun finding tiny things to sit in it’ Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View of the kitchen from the dining room. Guni Semi Pendant (large) from Surrounding. Green splashback tiles are Inax Biyusai from Arte Domus. Wall light is Artemide Dioscuri 140 from Artemide. ‘We’ve exposed the galvanised steel structure which supports the stair to the bedroom above, the timber shelves wrap around the diagonal columns.’ Murray explains, ‘The grooved cupboards are a reference to Fleur’s old kitchen in her original home.’ Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The southern shady garden view of the house. The reading room upstairs angles to look out at the large snow gum. The rain chain was at the request from Fleur and carries rain from the small roof. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View from the living room to the dining and kitchen, as well as the deck and garden (partially established here by Bush Projects Landscape Architects). Another piece from the early morning group trip to the timber yard, which according to Fleur is ‘lovely to hug’.  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View down the staircase. The large slider on the left opens the reading room and main bedroom into one space. The roof/ceiling kinks to allow for the existing trees. The painting of the hydrangeas above the staircase is by Fleur’s mother. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View from the reading room. Fleur shares, ‘This is my mother’s desk. My mother died 30 years ago. I love sitting at her desk high in my study looking out through the trees. The birds watch me and when I open the little windows I think one day one might fly in and sit on the desk as I write. The desk still holds some of mum’s old notebooks and photos.’ Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View from the kitchen through the hallway and into the guest bedroom. Fleur’s father collected old books, and she says she has ‘inherited a love for them’. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View from the main bedroom into the ensuite. The story behind the Leaf Collector banner above the windows, according to Fleur – ‘A few years ago I had a stall at the Rose Street market in Fitzroy. I was the Leaf Collector. I painted leaves and made things out of them. My house is now filled with leaves that I love. It is funny now that I live amongst all these beautiful trees, I find eucalyptus leaves blow in all the time. I find them everywhere- in the living room, the bedroom and even in my bed sometimes.’ Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The small window connects to the high hall void, it lets in the morning light, additional cross ventilation. The cupboard handles are The Dots from Muuto. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The main bathroom. Fleur collected the antique tiles at markets, and Murray incorporated them into the bathroom vanity. Wall light Artemide Dioscuri 140 from Artemide. Tap fittings Icon collection from Astra Walker. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

(From left to right) Murray Barker, Fleur’s daughter Hazel Brown with her son Earl, Fleur Glenn. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The exterior of the happy home. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 23rd January 2019

‘I could go on and on about the things I love about this house.’ – Fleur Glenn.

Fleur Glenn has lived on this Clifton Hill block for the past 30 years, across multiple dwellings. Two years ago, she subdivided the block to build her ideal treehouse-inspired home. She explains, ‘I moved into the new house in August 2018, and it feels so luxurious and wonderful.’

The design of this idiosyncratic home developed in an appropriately unconventional way, as Fleur sought out her daughter’s friend Murray as the architect for the project. Fleur explains that she had met Murray socially, and ‘knew he was a brave architect and I looked at a few things he had done. I liked his aesthetic and his calm, attentive manner.’ Importantly, Fleur knew Murray would be responsive to her ideas, and she wouldn’t ‘feel pushed into a house design that really wasn’t me.’

The project brief was for a tree house, and Murray explains, ‘Fleur had her own interesting ideas for the type of home she wanted to build!’ As his first solo architectural project, Murray highlights that he was ‘initially daunted by the task of taking on a full new build, but Fleur’s trust gave me confidence.’ Murray advocated for a varied spatial plan, that respected Fleur’s desire for a modest size, but introduced variety to the compact footprint. The clean and considered lines of the building offer sites of retreat, as well as zones for sharing with family and friends.

Fleur enthuses ‘I could go on and on about the things I love about this house.’ Particularly special elements include the bookcase-lined staircase, sitting among the branches in the treehouse study, the little seat by the front door to take off shoes, and the upstairs bathroom where she can lie back and watch the clouds roll by. In the mornings, after waking up and taking the newspaper and a cup of coffee back to bed before work, Fleur says ‘I feel like I am in a luxury hotel.’

The success of the project can be attributed to the generosity and integrity of all parties involved. Fleur’s final endorsement of Murray and Hamish from Sanctum Homes is emphatic – ‘they became friends. I miss them now they are gone, and I wish I could build something new with them again. I think we made a good team.’  Teamwork, truly makes the dream work!

*If today’s home has inspired you, please take a moment to roll your mouse over each photo above, and read the detailed captions and wonderful anecdotes Fleur has shared  to accompany our photographs!

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net