Five years ago, designer Vy Costen and her husband marine scientist Andrew Costen went searching for a family home where they could establish roots and become involved in their local community. After 12 months, they finally came across this North Warrandyte home, and despite needing updating and Vy being eight months pregnant with their second child (!), they decided to buy it. ‘I could tell there was a lot of work to be done just from the images online, so I gave Andrew every reason not to buy it, but in my heart I knew it was “the one,”’ says Vy. ‘This was going to be our forever home.’
The house is situated on the former Koornong Experimental School site that operated here in the 1940s. Following its closure, the site was subdivided into 12 blocks, with Vy and Andrew’s house completed on one of four vacant lots between 1953 and 1955. Vy says, ‘The original owners, Bruce and Lee Souter, considered this place to be their little slice of paradise. We are the second owners, having purchased it directly from the Souter estate.’
Vy and Andrew have attempted to learn more about their home’s history, particularly its unknown designer. ‘We may never solve the mystery, as drawings and other paperwork disappeared following Lee’s passing just after her 100th birthday. The local council only has records dating from 1965, and online searches have proved fruitless,’ Vy says. ‘Any help with identifying the architect would be most welcome!’
Since moving into the home, the couple have made several cosmetic updates, such as polishing the existing concrete slab and establishing a native garden. The walls were painted with Lexicon Quarter in satin finish to create a blank canvas, then the fireplace and floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinetry was painted with Lexicon Half in gloss for easy cleaning. The only structural change has been converting one of the bathrooms into a workplace for Vy, who is a designer and owner of the soon to be launched handmade knitwear label, Stay Hungry.
Among the untouched original features that remain are the blackbutt timber ceilings (that have ‘never been damaged by water or refinished’ says Vy), the kitchen, including its downlight fittings and joinery, and a pool that’s been unused for 35 years!
Most of the furnishings here are vintage Scandinavian pieces chosen to ground the space. ‘This is all softened up with lots of greenery, books, art and little handmade treasures we’ve made or found in vintage bazaars over the years,’ says Vy. ‘With three young boys ruling the space, it’s all pretty robust and relaxed as a whole.’
The family hope to sympathetically extend this house in the near future, which will most likely involve introducing some private zones for their growing children and restoring the pool. ‘Three boys and two dogs in a two bedroom open-plan home can be challenging!’ Vy says. ‘We plan to reinstate the pool with the extension, but currently it is only good for pobblebonk frogs to swim in.’
Vy and Andrew have no regrets moving to this home, describing it as a well-designed, little glass pavilion set amongst the beautiful Warrandyte bush-scape. ‘It’s perfectly positioned and orientated with heaps of room for our boys to play,’ Vy says. ‘We love the clean lines, the floating roofline and that unmistakable mid-century vibe. It has a soul.’