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Life In One Of Melbourne’s Best Mid-Century Homes!

Homes

When a real estate agent friend sent Anna Byrnes the link to this property’s online listing, they both knew her house hunt was over. The 1960s home in Melbourne’s North Warrandyte (25 km north-east of the CBD) was exactly what she’d been looking for, combining modernist character with natural scenery and future potential. 

Since moving in with her children Leo (10) and Jasper (7) in 2019, Anna has wasted no time bringing warmth back into the home, and of course, placing her signature styling flair on the space!

29th April, 2020

The living space is the main hub of the house, with views stretching over the Warrandyte Sate Park to the Yarra River and the Dandenong Ranges beyond. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

A timber lined feature wall adorned with artwork ‘Freedom Fighter #3‘ by local artist Michael Peck. A prized possession! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Anna with sons Leo, 10, and Jasper, 7. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

The vintage 1960s woven cane chair came with the house. The coffee table is an original vintage piece from the early ’60s. Circle chair initially from Great Dane Furniture, but a secondhand find. Rug from Bayliss. Sofa from King Living. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

An original article about the architectural genius of Melbourne architect John Hipwell from the early ’60s. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

‘One of the things I adored was the original white brick feature wall, adding yet another layer of texture to the space. The original lighting (a lot of it in rose gold) throughout the house spoke to me and was way ahead of its time.’ says Anna. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Original vintage dining table and chairs made in Melbourne complement the mid-century modern era of the home. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

View down the hallway linking the bedrooms to the living zone. A perfectly functional floor plan for today’s modern family. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

One of the many kitchen nooks – this one has a built-in clock! ‘The kitchen has been purposely left in its original state as it was unique and ahead of its time and remains a visual statement,’ says Anna. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

The quirky yet practical kitchen houses a unique 1960s double oven imported from the UK. ‘It dominates and demands everyone’s attention upon entering the kitchen. A talking point for all who enter the home!’ says Anna. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Decorative timber antlers from Anna’s styling warehouse now have a permanent home! Saddle tan leather chair found in a small country op shop near Daylesford. Mix of Mark Tuckey, Sheridan and In Bed Store textiles on the bed. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

This oversized recycled timber bed feels like it was made for this space! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

‘This room was originally designed by the architect to take full advantage of the best views and aspect,’ says Anna. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Leo and Jasper’s bedroom divided by a unique vintage find: a leather bedside table with brass handle detail. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

The bedroom’s dressing space and wardrobe was designed for functionality, and proves to be ahead of its time. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

The bathroom has been gutted and redesigned with terrazzo tiles – a nod to the ’60s! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

The gently sloping block that leads to its own private swimming hole along the banks of the Yarra River. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 29th April 2020

‘It’s quite modest, yet it stands on its feet and demands your attention as soon as you walk through the door.’ – Anna Byrnes

Modernist homes in Melbourne’s outer east have become a particularly hot commodity in recent years, and Anna Byrnes has snapped up one of the best. This 1965 house was designed by John Hipwell, an architect who designed many properties in the Warrandyte area, and it remained in the hands of the original owner until last year. 

When Anna and her children moved in, the house required some attention, having been left vacant for some time after the former owner went into an aged care home. ‘It had not been lived in for a number of years, so a lot of work was needed to breathe warmth back into it,’ says Anna. The largest task was updating the original bathroom, which was gutted and remodelled on a ‘crazy’ six week deadline. ‘It was redesigned to flow, increase functionality and add aesthetic appeal. I decided on terrazzo tiles to give the room a combined feel of today’s design with a touch of the modernist era,’ says Anna. 

Being the owner of styling business Styling Spaces, Anna has placed her individual style on the home, but many of the original features remain. Among highlights are the timber clad walls and floor-to-ceiling windows running the length of the house, creating an indoor-outdoor living space. ‘It’s quite modest, yet it stands on its feet and demands your attention as soon as you walk through the door,’ is how Anna describes the home. ‘Since adding my own stamp, we can now see our life here and how the home represents our journey for the future.’ 

Another feature that remains is the 1960s oven (a very expensive, high-tech purchase at the time!), which Anna has nicknamed ‘The NASA Oven.’ ‘I was apprehensive about the usability and practicality as it takes up a fifth of the kitchen! I have now embraced it and have fun cooking with it,’ Anna says. The family plan on extending the home in the coming years, but for now it provides enough room for everything they need. 

Anna’s bedroom is her personal retreat, enhanced by a recent forest green paint job on both the walls and ceiling, which creates the feeling of a cocoon. ‘The contrast of the paint colour with the timber panelling, the Oregon timber sliding doors and windows gives the room so much depth, character and richness,’ she says. ‘It captures the true essence of what the home means to me, and there’s no place I’d rather be when the night invites me to rejuvenate.’

On top of this being such a beautifully designed home, it’s also located on a huge bush-like block just 100 metres from the banks of the Yarra River.  ‘I feel this is our own private retreat where we can remove ourselves from the daily grind and reconnect with nature,’ says Anna. From the front door, the family can walk through their block to their very own sandy swimming hole in just three minutes. ‘Having the water and bush, our two greatest loves, is a gift from mother nature,’ says Anna. ‘The peace of the running river is heard from our balcony. This is our haven.’

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