Blackhearts + Pink Bedrooms, A Home With An Unconventional Past

It isn’t every day that a former brothel is transformed into a home (!) – but for co-founder of Blackheart and Sparrows Paul Ghaie and hospitality professional partner Lucy Wallace, this property presented the perfect opportunity for a contemporary and comfortable Fitzroy home.

Take a tour of this Fieldwork Architecture designed home, where splashes of the past are illuminating the present.

Lucy Feagins
Supported by Dulux

The dining room of Paul Ghaie and Lucy Wallace’s home, designed by Fieldwork Architects. Photo – Tom Ross.

View from the dining room to the courtyard. Photo – Tom Ross.

Lucy, Paul and pooch in the dining room. Custom table by their friend Chris Scott, banquette seat by I Am Not Mason, arc light, vintage Italian selected by Studio Wonder, artwork by various artists including Justin Williams, Hana Shimada, Rhys Lee and Carl Breitkreuz. Photo – Tom Ross.

Rear Lounge of the front building – this area gets beautiful early afternoon sun. We love sitting on the vintage pink leather couch with a cup of tea looking out to the garden. Photo – Tom Ross.

Detail of the dining nook. 3D sculpture by Roh Singh, and large drawing by Justin Williams. Photo – Tom Ross.

Dining room. Photo – Tom Ross.

Cabinetry by Inner West Joinery, and a perfectly curved kitchen bench. Photo – Tom Ross.

Upstairs and downstairs, looking towards the courtyard. Photo – Tom Ross.

Front lounge – Paul and Lucy have digital streaming throughout the house, but this room is where the analogue setup lives. Something for vinyl geeks – a valve amp by Weston Acoustics, turntable by Michell Engineering and speakers by Hoyt-Bedford, all pieces of art in their own right! Photo – Tom Ross.

View from the main bedroom in the rear building – highlighting the fun the couple had with pink – the walls, carpet and neon border light are all pink. Paul explains ‘I love the way the neon follows the line of the handrail.’ Photo – Tom Ross.

View back to the front building showing the “Exquisite Ladies” neon and steel gate by Red Steel. You can just see the stained glass windows above the back door. Photo – Tom Ross.

The view from the courtyard. Photo – Tom Ross.

Pink night illumination! Photo – Tom Ross.

Lucy Feagins
24th of April 2019

When Paul Ghaie (co-founder of wine, boutique beer and cider purveyors, Blackhearts and Sparrows) moved into an apartment in Rose Street, Fitzroy, he was living two doors down from the brothel Club Rose. The club shut down in late 2017, and Paul jumped at the opportunity to purchase the site. After securing the property, Paul and partner Lucy Wallace (a hospitality professional) engaged Fieldwork Architects to transform the building, which featured obligatory showers in every room, mirrored ceilings, Roman columns, and two spa baths… into a home.

The modern design is refined but a little quirky, with material references to the unusual history of the building. Paul explains that the brief was for something that was both beautiful and practical. He highlights ‘there are so many subtle touches that aren’t too flashy or shouting “look at me”…well, maybe other than the pink windows in the bathroom and the neon in the back building.’

I’m not sure I’d describe this home as ‘subtle’ – but the architects have cleverly balanced sharp contemporary designs (the clean line of the staircase, sleek bathroom tiles, the blush and olive dining nook) with moments of aesthetic sass! Paul and Lucy wanted to avoid a ‘sterile white box’ and have used Dulux ‘All’s Ace’ pink, as well as coloured lighting the create mood and reflect a unique sense of character.  Neon lights in the rear courtyard illuminate the night with the glowing declaration ‘Exquisite Ladies’, which Paul explains is a ‘not so subtle reminder of the history of the building – and a lot of fun when we have visitors.’

The kitchen is the hub of this home, where Paul and Lucy put their combined hospitality skills and wine knowledge to use, cooking for friends. The aged brass bench top is a centrepiece in the room, and Paul describes ‘there’s a little history of meals and parties past in each mark and scratch’. The space is brought to life through the couple’s art collection (especially the vibrant Rhys Lee painting) and the lighting by Pip from Studio Wonder.

This unconventional home reflects both the history of the site, and the personality of the owners. In Paul’s words – ‘we don’t take ourselves too seriously.’

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