This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Family Palazzo In Essendon

The Good Room

TODAY we’re very excited to launch a brand new monthly column, authored by our brilliant erstwhile Managing Editor (2011-2016) – Lisa Marie Corso!

‘The Good Room’ celebrates that special room in the house that we take most pride in. This is the room where we host loved ones, and where our most precious memories are made, from kids’ playdates to Christmas lunch. According to Lisa, we all have a good room… but, not everyone’s good room is THIS epic!

Welcome to the Essendon home of Mick and Pauline Toscano. Pauline has spent 37 years painstakingly decorating the place, from reproducing the original wallpapers, to designing her own lavish Victorian-inspired curtains. The Toscanos take ‘house proud’ to new heights!

30th September, 2019

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Mick and Pauline Toscano in their Essendon Home. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Mick and Pauline Toscano, with granddaughter Isabella. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Lisa Marie Corso
Monday 30th September 2019

‘Pauline stands beaming next to the wallpaper, which is actually four sectional pieces that slightly differ from one another to achieve one cohesive “Am I in Versailles?” look.’

In 1990 I acted impulsively and destructively in an act of defiance that still haunts me. I was two years old, and armed with a marker pen entered my Nonna’s ‘good room’. There are no prizes for guessing what happened next. I took to her curtains in what can only be described as a Jackson-Pollock-inspired-creative-rage. Nonna’s beige floral curtains were marked with hypnotic pink squiggles. She found me just in time, before I could unleash havoc on my next canvas: her dusty pink velvet couch. My career as an artist died that day, but my obsession with ‘The Good Room’ began.

A good room is the best room in the house. We all have a good room. Some look like my Nonna’s, and are history preserved in time, or for me, it’s the tiny living space in my apartment, where I sit on my couch and yell at the TV during tribal council in Survivor. Good rooms are safe spaces to love, cry and congregate.

Now as an adult who no longer defaces other people’s property, and perhaps on a mission to atone for my good room sins, I’m here to spread the good room word by visiting other people’s good rooms. I’m also on a mission to see how many times I can include the words ‘good room’ in a sentence.

The first people I visit in this series are The Toscanos in Essendon. Pauline, 77, and Mick, 83, have been living in their home for 37 years. “We moved in two weeks after I turned 40,” says Pauline, who hugs me within seconds of entering her home. She also offers me a coffee, mineral water and a cannoli. “You’ve got to eat!”

Sitting at their table with their eldest granddaughter Isabella, I Instantly feel like I could be a distant cousin, there’s a familiarity and they talk openly. Mick tells me about moving to Australia in the 1950s and marrying the love of his life, Pauline. “We got married at the Royal Exhibition Building, and 1100 people came to our wedding,” says Pauline. “In those days you had to invite everyone!” adds Mick.

The couple’s Essendon home was a long time coming, and the result of decades of hard work. “We just found out Nonno worked as a cobbler in the village,” says Isabella. “And apparently when he was working all the girls would come in saying their shoes needed to be fixed.” Moving to Australia, Mick’s work ethic continued, and he emerged as a multi-businessman. He worked for an insurance company before going out on his own and opening a travel agency, and then for a decade he and Pauline were partners at iconic Melbourne restaurant Florentino’s, before eventually running their own events reception centre, which is still open for business today.

It would be twenty years into their marriage before Mick and Pauline found their dream home in Essendon. “We were just driving home from my Mum and Dad’s, who lived around the corner and saw the place was for sale,” says Pauline. Built in 1875, their Victorian home was in need of some love when they became its new custodians, and it was a challenge Pauline fully embraced.

“We’ve worked on the house slowly over 37 years and it’s still not finished, next I’d like a slate roof as all good Victorian homes have them,” she tells me. Five minutes later Isabella enters the room and asks me, laughing, “Did she tell you about the slate roof yet?!” Pauline’s home is her lifelong project.

“I was always very interested in interior design but was at home raising four kids,” she says. “I don’t have any training!” She started with the first the dining room. “I had to start somewhere, and loved the colours in the original fireplace tile,” she says pointing to the tile in question. “Then we ripped up the old floors and I found this old wallpaper sample, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was, so I sent it to England to get reproduced.” She stands beaming next to the wallpaper, which is actually four sectional pieces that slightly differ from one another to achieve one cohesive “Am I in Versailles?” look. It’s fantastic. She slowly collected all the antique furniture over time, and fondly remembers every Christmas when the entire family sits around the table. “She cooks for days,” tells Isabella. “And I mean days!”

Next Pauline takes me on a tour of the sitting room. “This is my daughter Tina,” Pauline tells me, pointing to a framed photo of a young girl. There are actually lots of framed, family photos, and she tells me who everyone is until I have the entire Toscano family tree mapped out in my mind. “There’s about 80 of us,” laughs Isabella.

Pauline says her good room is a place to relax, be with family and enjoy life. I watch as she stands back, looking at the room with pride. “When I first met Mick he told me ‘I have nothing now, but I am going to give the world to you’ and you know what? He did and more.”

This Week

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.
2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

News

An Unmissable Pop-Up This Saturday Bringing Together Melbourne’s Best Creatives!

The exciting 005 Abode pop-up features stalls from makers like Lucy Tolan, Ella Reweti, Fisch and more in Alt-House’s Fitzroy warehous...
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

Architecture

An Inside Look At Domain Park: Melbourne’s Revolutionary 1960s Apartment Building

Once the tallest residential building in Melbourne, Robin Boyd's Domain Park (1962) paved the way for a new era of apartment living.

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.

Shopping

Sarah Ellison + Pantone Team Up To Create The 70s-Inspired Sofa Of Our Dreams

Meet Sarah Ellison's luxurious retro-inspired sofa, FLOAT, wrapped in its custom Pantone colour; a rich coffee brown called Piccolo!
Christina Karras

News

Visit Local Artist Kate Florence's Colourful New Exhibition

See (and shop!) Kate’s abstract paintings and sculptures created in collaboration with Neighbourhood Studio in Melbourne this week.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Art

This Vibrant Exhibition Brings Together Traditional Sculpture + Contemporary Art For A Story On Legacy

Brunswick Street Gallery presents 'Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region'; a bold showcase of the strength of Wik Kugu culture. 

News

Typo's New Homewares Range Has Everything You Need For A 'Big Night In'

The local brand known for their playful stationary and homewares has released their latest range of quirky bean bags, cushions and decor!
Sponsored

Similar Stories

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

Interiors

How To Embrace Colour + Pattern With Mexican Maximalist-Inspired Style

Interior designer Lauren Li demonstrates how to capture this distinctive holiday vibe in your own home!
Lauren Li

This Week

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.
2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

Shopping

Sarah Ellison + Pantone Team Up To Create The 70s-Inspired Sofa Of Our Dreams

Meet Sarah Ellison's luxurious retro-inspired sofa, FLOAT, wrapped in its custom Pantone colour; a rich coffee brown called Piccolo!
Christina Karras

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

News

Typo's New Homewares Range Has Everything You Need For A 'Big Night In'

The local brand known for their playful stationary and homewares has released their latest range of quirky bean bags, cushions and decor!
Sponsored

Art

This Vibrant Exhibition Brings Together Traditional Sculpture + Contemporary Art For A Story On Legacy

Brunswick Street Gallery presents 'Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region'; a bold showcase of the strength of Wik Kugu culture. 

News

An Unmissable Pop-Up This Saturday Bringing Together Melbourne’s Best Creatives!

The exciting 005 Abode pop-up features stalls from makers like Lucy Tolan, Ella Reweti, Fisch and more in Alt-House’s Fitzroy warehous...
Christina Karras

News

Visit Local Artist Kate Florence's Colourful New Exhibition

See (and shop!) Kate’s abstract paintings and sculptures created in collaboration with Neighbourhood Studio in Melbourne this week.
Christina Karras

Architecture

An Inside Look At Domain Park: Melbourne’s Revolutionary 1960s Apartment Building

Once the tallest residential building in Melbourne, Robin Boyd's Domain Park (1962) paved the way for a new era of apartment living.

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

Similar Stories

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

Interiors

How To Embrace Colour + Pattern With Mexican Maximalist-Inspired Style

Interior designer Lauren Li demonstrates how to capture this distinctive holiday vibe in your own home!
Lauren Li

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