When the owner of this Melbourne period home contacted Cassie James-Herrick, director of CJH Studio, to undertake a complete interior overhaul, she was not only engaging a designer with impeccable taste, but one who understood her exact stage in life. Both Cassie and her client had babies of a similar age, allowing them to bond over the gripes of early parenthood, while combining their knowledge of what is most needed in a home for families with small children. The answer? Storage and light-filled interiors.
Custom joinery is an ’absolute favourite element of mine in any interior’, says Cassie, and this project in particular was a chance to flex her muscles. Her design features custom made cabinetry in every room, providing a uniquely personalised storage solution, as well as playing a major aesthetic role. ‘Balance was key to the joinery elements. I wanted to offset heavier full-height elements of the joinery (which maximised storage space) with lighter elements that become more like furniture in the room,’ Cassie says. The living room in particular balances the needs of the home’s adult and young occupants, by incorporating large pullout toy boxes and open shelves at an accessible height to suit children, with the television housed above behind closed doors.
Some small changes were made to the existing floorplan to enable greater functionality, without expanding the home’s footprint. One of these tweaks was to internalise the outdoor deck, turning it into the home’s main dining area. The study was also halved in size, but doubled in storage space, creating room in the floorplan for a powder room and a butler’s pantry.
The client wished to retain some of the period features of the home, but ultimately strip away its overarching dark and formal style. ‘We really wanted to harness more natural light and tones throughout the house,’ says Cassie. ‘We loved working with the original traditional elements and bringing this together with the proposed interior concept to become a more contemporary take on this.’
Varying shades of grey feature on the interior walls, complemented by natural stone bench tops, light American oak, terrazzo floor tiles, and hints of brass and black throughout the fixtures. ‘The client loved greys, and they were visible throughout her visual references originally. I wanted to play on the heritage brass that was the traditional finish element in the house, without this becoming the main finish on all the fixtures,’ says Cassie. ‘We still mixed this in, but we brought in the black for the more contemporary element they were also craving.’
The impact of these changes has culminated in a beautiful home that is not precious or pretentious. As Cassie describes it, ‘The design is relaxed, warm and inviting, yet practical. All the design elements are luxurious, highly detailed and considered, but are also forgiving for daily life and inevitable kids accidents.’