When designer Mardi Ola purchased this property just two years ago, the 1982 fit out was still standing strong. She explains ‘it was awash with grey laminate!’ The site was originally the home of a Maples Stores (the yesteryear version of Myer, or Harvey Norman), and in 1978 was purchased by a group of Melbourne architects and developers. In 1980, the team converted the site into a group of apartments – in one of Australia’s first warehouse conversions (i.e the original hipsters!)
When Mardi moved in, she immediately stripped the space of internal walls, to bring her own identity to the spatial layout. She explains ‘as none of the internal walls are structural, it was relatively easy to reconfigure.’ Less easy, was sawing through four layers of brickwork to drop the height of all of the windows… but it was worth the work!
Mardi came across the building almost twenty years ago when walking around the area with her eldest daughter Mia (now 20) in her stroller. ‘I was enamoured with it at the time, and knew that I definitely wanted to live here someday.’ The stars aligned as the apartment became available at just the moment Mardi was looking.
The home is adorned with an incredible collection of furniture, antiques, art and other treasured items Mardi has collected, and her ethos is to ‘make things as friendly and relaxed as possible, and as far away from the showroom aesthetic as possible.’ The Paul Evans cabinets, Platner armchairs and Columbo ‘Elda’ chair are particular favourites, in a mix-and-match of Mardi’s most adored possessions.
What strikes us most about this amazing home is its incredible use of texture and COLOUR! Mardi has been so brave with her choices, layering rich gold curtains with lux silk carpets and moroccan rugs underfoot, and introducing teal wall panelling, alongside a palette of mustard, apricots, and even icy mint green, with cabinetry in emerald greens and grey… I could go on! The result is a home that is enviably refined, yet full of personality – a space with its own truly unique character.
Mardi is a self-proclaimed lighting obsessive, although she admits that ‘almost half of the lights are decorative here, as I quite like moving around in the semi-dark at night.’ Luckily, she knows the layout of the space like the back of her hand, so is unlikely to bump her toes or knock over an irreplaceable antique in the dark! She explains how the scale and volume of the space was both a gift and a challenge in configuring a liveable home. ‘I divided up areas with the use of Skyrange steel and glass walls, which give a sense of division, creating separate rooms without being closed off or blocking light.’ Warehouse conversion at its very best!