Catherine Mazzotta of Modernist Interiors Eltham is like a guardian angel of mid-century modern architecture, with divine jurisdiction in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne. She has lived and renovated three mid-century homes in Eltham, Templestowe and Hurstbridge, viewing herself as the custodian of these treasured architectural gems, rather than their owner. Catherine calls this slice of outer Melbourne the ‘green wedge’, where bushland-surrounded houses designed by iconic modernist architects and builders like Alistair Knox, Sibbel Builders and Fasham Johnson sustain their legacies.
When undergoing a renovation on a heritage home, Catherine first considers how to restore these character homes, rather than demolishing anything. ‘Once we’ve decided on what is staying, we work on the living spaces and the flow of the home,’ Catherine explains. ‘We carefully consider the floor plan and maintain a balance in the living spaces. A good modernist architect will design a home so the interior and exterior are in harmony, where the internal floor plan has flow, bespoke joinery and natural materials that add character.’
The slate floors, timber ceiling and floor to ceiling north-facing windows of Catherine’s own Hurstbridge home are some of the home’s best original features, allowing natural light to stream into the shared living areas. The large kitchen opens up onto a communal dining and living zone, which takes advantage of an entire wall of glazing overlooking the beautiful bushland. ‘There is a bushy reserve behind the property that is home to a mob of kangaroos and the bird life is abundant, our kids love hanging out in the garden and we have a treehouse!’ she says.
Although this Hurstbridge masterpiece is really something special, Catherine and her partner (architect Michael Archibald) and their four kids are moving on to another piece of mid-century magic, a mud brick house in Eltham, designed by Alistair Knox. ‘Australian architecture today still leans heavily on modernist design, and now more than ever is borrowing the focus of natural materials from that era to bring warmth and character back to domestic architecture’ she says. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
‘We will miss the wonderful zoned living spaces for all the family, the perfectly located kitchen as the hub of the house, the stunning arched open fireplace where we cooked marshmallows and baked damper, the gorgeous timber-lined ceilings, the bushy native garden and the lovely township.’ As bittersweet as this parting may be, the good news is, this dream house is ready for a new generation of memories.
Are you the next custodian of this Fasham Johnson home? View the full listing and book an inspection here.
Follow Catherine and her love for mid-century Australian homes and design here.