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.’