If you want to snag a mid-century home in Melbourne’s incredibly leafy and increasingly coveted north-east, it pays to have some local connections!
It was a family friend who alerted Liam Gough to this mudbrick home for sale off-market in North Warrandyte. Created by an owner-builder in 1977 in the style of Alistair Knox, the house was relatively untouched and contained a wealth of local materials – just what the musician and his partner Olivia Cummings, designer and founder of Cleopatra’s Bling jewellery, were after.
‘We were looking for a diamond in the rough; something that hadn’t been renovated or modernised before, so we could keep the character and charm that the ‘70s mudbrick houses in Warrandyte are known for,’ says Olivia.
‘There are two time capsules on the walls, of pressed flowers behind glass, from the year the house was built. The mudbricks were made from the clay soil on the property, the recycled Oregon timbers are from a warehouse demolished in the ‘70s, and the red brick floors and chimneys are a mix of recycled and seconds bricks.’
After years of city living (Liam in inner Melbourne, and Olivia across Paris, Istanbul and Naples for 13 years!), the couple were excited to return to the area where Liam grew up.
Since moving in last year, they’ve completed only minor updates such as painting the home’s exterior and installing new kitchen bench tops and tiles.
‘We used Dulux Vivid White for the whole house, because we wanted a crisp freshness that steered away from the natural mudbrick colour, and to contrast against the darker natural tones of the recycled timbers and bricks,’ says Olivia. The furniture and styling adopts a more colourful theme, incorporating several kilim rugs Olivia collected in Turkey and Morocco.
The only significant addition to the property is Liam’s new recording studio, built completely from scratch using all recycled materials. Olivia has meanwhile spent countless lockdown hours attempting to soften up the hard Warrandyte soil in order to grow flowers and vegetables in the garden, and make a good home for two new beehives.
Liam and Olivia love working and living in this bush-like haven, far enough away from Melbourne’s busy inner-city, while remaining within easy reach.
‘I think COVID made home much more important, so it’s become really comforting… it feels incredible to drive home from the city and settle in for the night,’ Olivia says. ‘Waking up to natural light with our incredible view is an amazing way to start our day together, immersed in nature, with the kangaroos regularly at our doorstep.’