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A Jaw-Dropping Apartment In One Of Australia’s First Warehouse Conversions

Homes

The converted warehouse has become a well-established building typology… but today’s home is one of the first examples in Australia! With its soaring ceilings and New-York-In-The-60’s vibe, it’s clear this place is truly one of a kind.

We chat with designer Mardi Ola about bringing new life to the unique South Yarra home she shares with daughters Olivia (12), Ava (11), Sunny the labradoodle and Theodore the grumpy cat.

30th January, 2019

The entry area to Mardi Ola’s spectacular converted warehouse in South Yarra. Antique cabinet filled with various art pieces: David Bromley ‘Noah’s Ark Bronze Animals’, Gemma Smith acrylic sculpture from Sarah Cottier Gallery, and Vanilla Netto neon from Arc One Gallery. Vintage Soriana sofas purchased on 1st Dibs. Painting by Gemma Smith from Sarah Cottier Gallery. Painting in hallway by Vanilla Netto from Arc One Gallery. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View into the kitchen. Lacanche range, custom brass rangehood surround. Solid European oak joinery with stone masonry by Hendersons (‘seriously the best laughs ever working with those guys!’ Mardi says), vintage plaster from Geoffrey Hatty. Swing placement by Louella Tuckey – who insisted Mardi needed it in the kitchen. Cappellini ‘Hi-Pad’ stools from Dedece. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘This is actually the girls’ homework table – it’s never looked neater!’ Mardi says. Solid oak tripod table by Louella Tuckey. Vintage Japanese glass vessels on table from Made In Japan. Industrial steel doors and windows by Skyrange. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The library. Joe Colombo ‘Elda’ chair and Curtis Jere ‘Brad’ table lamp from 1st Dibs. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Vintage mushroom collection in the library from Moss Green Galleries. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View of the library. Vintage pendant from 1st Dibs. Jardan ‘Sunny’ sofa. Behruz Studio rug. Joe Columbo ‘Elda’ chair. Curtis Jére ‘Brads’ table lamp. Maria Fernando Cardoso feathered hanging totem from Arc One Gallery. ‘Blow Up’ chair from 2st Dibs. Gemma Smith paintings from Sarah Cottier gallery. Vintage leather dining chairs from 1st Dibs. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Mardi in the library, in front of her impressive vintage mushroom collection (!) from Moss Green Galleries. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Blow Up’ chair from 1st Dibs. Gemma Smith paintings from Sarah Cottier Gallery. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Dining room through to the garden room. Dining table made of an industrial vintage base and custom-made top. Vintage Cassina ‘Cab’ chairs from Shapiro Gallery. ‘Art Tree’ created by years of Mardi’s kids’ artwork being ‘plonked on it’. Vintage pendant light over dining table from 1st Dibs. Sisal rug by International Floor Coverings. Minotti sofa from Dedece. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The sitting room. Snoopy lamp from Euroluce. Vintage Platner armchair from 1st Dibs reupholstered in Kvadrat by Martel Upholstery. Serge Mouille standing lamp. Behruz rug. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Vintage chrome light from Rewire LA (one of Mardi’s all-time favourite lighting go-to’s). Marian Drew artwork. Vintage Paul Evans sideboard, used as a bar. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Robert Owen painting and 3D sculpture. Janet Laurence paneling from Arc One Gallery. Jason Hartcup 3D Wall piece. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Main bathroom. Vintage tub from Geoffrey Hatty. Curtis Jere brass safety pin. Vintage brass pendant from 1st Dibs. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Corner of the master bedroom. ‘The wall panelling is, in fact, my sneaky shoe storage’, Mardi reveals! Rug from Tibet Sydney. Warren Platner armchair from 1st Dibs. Joshua Yeldham owl sculpture from Scott Livesy gallery. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Master bedroom. Artwork above bed by Gregory Hodge from Sullivan Strumpf gallery. Bedlinen by Society Limonta. Articulated wall lights from Angelucci. Mirrored bedside tables by Don McQualter. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The playroom. Vintage bed and painted linen wall paneling by David Bromley. Curtis Jere vintage brass pendant from 1st Dibs. Maison de Vacances pouf. Rug from Behruz Studio.  Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Ava’s room. Vintage desk. Hemptech sheer linen curtains. Windows by Skyrange. Birdcage pendants from Paris. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Ava’s room. Bed designed by Mardi. David Bromley embroidery above bed. Bedlinen by LAB and Hale Mercantile. Big lamb picture is one Mardi had blown up and printed on canvas. Brass chest from 1st Dibs. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Olivia’s bedroom. Vintage artwork from 1st Dibs. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Olivia’s room. Vintage artwork from 1st Dibs. Vintage French bed linen from Ici et la Sydney. Rug from Behruz Studio. Pendant light by Anna Charlesworth. Mirrored lightning bolts from Bride and Wolfe. Cushions by Megan Park. Desk designed by Mardi. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The plant room, featuring a majestic Fiddle Leaf Fig that Mardi jokes she  ‘just can’t kill’. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 30th January 2019

‘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.’ – Mardi Ola.

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!

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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