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Domain Editor Alice Stolz’s Gorgeous Melbourne Family Home

Homes

Even when you’re the editor of a real estate platform, it can be surprisingly difficult to find your perfect family home! 

Domain’s national managing editor and property expert Alice Stolz (you might recognise her from The Block!) experienced this unique conundrum when returning to Australia in 2016, following 12 years living overseas with her husband Adam Stolz and three children. A city-wide Melbourne search ensued, leading to this 1900s Canterbury home, oozing with character and potential. 

Alice and Adam worked with Doherty Design Studio to completely renovate the property within the existing footprint. The result is equal parts practical and playful, exuding a certain ‘je ne sais quoi!’

23rd February, 2022

Alessi kettle. Laminex Brushed Titanium on overhead cupboards. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Door handles by Linear Standard. Tapware by E&S. Marble by Signorino. Dining room wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Marble by Signorino. Dining room wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Mona Pedestal in umber from L&M Home. Laminex Brushed Titanium on overhead cupboards. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Pink cushion from House of Orange. Vittoria Olive Sofa in oatmeal by GlobeWest. Pure angora wool rug from Halcyon Lake in Richmond. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Tempo Vivace Pendant Light by Arturo Álvarez.  Door handles by Linear Standard. Tapware by E&S. Marble by Signorino. Laminex Brushed Titanium on overhead cupboards. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Tempo Vivace Pendant Light by Arturo Álvarez. Three-door side table sourced in Paris. Plate on wall by West Elm. Artwork on wall ‘HOPE’ on canvas by Betty Muffler.  Pink Urna vase by Marimekko. Cushions from L&M Home. Vittoria Olive Sofa in Oatmeal by GlobeWest. Window seat upholstered by Camm Upholstery. Fabric by James Dunlop Textiles. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Stained glass windows enhance the light and bright living room. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Print by JR. Framed by Fini Frames. Rufus Chamfered Triangle Side Table by GlobeWest. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artwork on wall is Tunnel Vision by Marc Martin. Vittoria Olive Sofa in Oatmeal by GlobeWest. Cushions from L&M Home. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Bouquet Pendant 5 chandelier from Great Dane. Indigo Linen Curtains by Love Light South Yarra. Antique French dresser bought in Paris. Huxley Curve Dining Table from GlobeWest. Recycled pink plastic chairs from Ikea. Wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Vases from Paris. Indigo linen blinds by Love Light South Yarra. Huxley Curve Dining Table by GlobeWest. Recycled pink plastic chairs from Ikea. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Door handle from Covet Paris. Oil painting on mantle: Sweet pea nimbus by Emma Fuss. Clay fruit was made by Mathilde when she was in Year 7. Pot plant pot from Bulleen Art and Garden. Hand cut silhouettes of Alice’s daughters from when the girls were aged 5, 3 and 1. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Copenhagen cashmere throw by L&M Home. Door by Linear Standard.  Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

 

Watercolour portraits of Alice and her husband by Nicholas Harding. Lunar Mirror in ‘wineberry’ by Grazia and Co. Linen from L&M home and quilt from House of Orange. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 23rd February 2022

‘I feel like Mardi had sort of X-ray vision and could see all that was possible by peeling walls away and creating new spaces. It was like a bricks and mortar version of alchemy.’ 

 

When Alice Stolz, national managing editor at Domain and property expert at Nine and The Block, went looking for a family home in Melbourne, she was constantly assured the search would be easy. ‘Everybody kept saying to me, “Alice, with your job, you’ll have no trouble finding a family house to buy!” But we did – it was clearly a case of the cobbler’s children having the worst shoes!’

Prior to buying, Alice lived overseas for 12 years – 10 years in Paris and two years in New York – with her husband Adam Stolz (chief actuary at Medibank) and three children Mathilde (16), Charlotte, (14), and Beatrice (12). 

‘I think the issue was, we had lived in Parisian apartments for over a decade and couldn’t initially bend our minds around a house and the compromise of living out of the inner city,’ Alice says. ‘But once we arrived in Australia our children took to the lifestyle here like ducks to water, we realised the magic of space, a bedroom for each daughter, and a big old oak tree in the back garden.’

After inspecting what felt like every house in Melbourne, a buyer’s advocate suggested this 1900s house in Canterbury that finally ticked all the boxes. ‘The house was creaking with character and had a lovely feeling of irreverence to it. I loved the potential of it, the quirky floor plan, and the feeling that there was something quite enchanted about it,’ says Alice. 

‘We thought it would be above our budget, but we ended up snaring it after it had been on the market for a while. Right place, right time.’ 

The 1900s house needed a lot of reconfiguring to suit the family of five, but Alice was intent on retaining its original spirit. ‘The floor plan was like something that Charles Dickens would have lived in; it was a rabbit warren,’ she says. ‘There was no heating, cooling, no carpet and only one bathroom and one loo.’

It would have been easier to demolish the back of the house and start over, but a limited budget and the expertise of Doherty Design Studio inspired working within the existing footprint. 

‘I think all those years of living in tight and quirky buildings in Paris and New York stood us in good stead to not need that much internal space. And as chaotic and mad as we are as a family, we actually all revel in being together, and this house encourages us to congregate,’ says Alice.

Designer Mardi Doherty understood the family’s vision to embrace the existing home while improving its liveability, resulting in a completely personalised space. ‘Had I needed to, I could have closed my eyes and handed all decisions over to Mardi and I would have been happy. I didn’t, of course; once I started, I genuinely loved every step of the renovation process!’ says Alice. ‘I feel like Mardi had sort of X-ray vision and could see all that was possible by peeling walls away and creating new spaces. It was like a bricks and mortar version of alchemy.’

An initially neutral palette evolved over the project’s life to be colourful and layered. Dulux White Note underpins most rooms (‘We wanted a warmer white that felt warm, inviting and also felt sympathetic to the style and period details in the home’), contrasted with bold feature walls such as the dining room painted Dulux Rosetta

‘Life just felt too short to be safe [with colour]’ says Alice. ‘I really gave myself permission to wholeheartedly renovate a house that was right for us.’

Furniture and decor have been sourced worldwide, including several vintage pieces from the family’s Paris days.

Alice hopes the completed home still feels still rich in character, while being functional, warm and generous. ‘Our aim was to make a liveable home that would never intimidate, but that was also playful and have a bit of a ‘je ne sais quoi’,’ she says. 

‘We’ll be tackling the garden next, and I can’t wait to have that act as a frame for the house and to really bring yet another dimension to the property!’ 

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net