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.’