Alexandra Apostolids and Pierre Seale had several key features they desired in their first family home. This 1950s home in Warrandyte (a bush-like suburb 24 kilometres north-east of Melbourne’s CBD) was the only property that ticked every single box.
‘We have always loved mid-century interiors and architecture,’ says Alexandra. ‘This house especially presented so many of the key characteristics that we adore from this period… full-height cedar awning windows allowing natural light in abundance; an L-shaped floor plan wrapping around the home that embraces greenery; and of course the timber-lined board ceilings with exposed beams.’
Pierre is a builder, and through his business Lifetime Building and Design, he often collaborates on design projects with Alexandra, so it seemed inevitable that the pair would combine their skills to transform this property! Their focus was to enhance the home’s original beauty, before adding modern details. ‘Any opportunity there was to embrace natural materials and elements in their purest form, we took it,’ says Alexandra.
The couple firstly pared back the interiors to remove pokey cupboards and low doors, in favour of higher openings and cleaner lines. ‘We expanded on space and flow by opening up the dining and living area, and removing a wall that separated these two spaces’ explains Alexandra.
Two new sets of bi-fold doors were installed around the outdoor area, replacing existing fixed window and doors that weren’t working to their potential. ‘Having them open expands the living area immensely… our floor plan doubles when they bi-fold doors are opened’ says Alexandra.
Elsewhere, original cedar windows were sanded back to show their natural vein, while Baltic timber floorboards were restored to their original unstained colour and matte finish.
With the bones of the home now restored, Alexandra and Pierre began to add modern comforts. ‘There was no insulation in any of the roof, walls, or floor, which we rectified, along with the addition of underfloor heating in all bathrooms, and zoned heating and cooling’ says Alexandra, adding ‘a remote opening skylight highlighting the canopies of our river gums, and helping to passively cool the home was a great decision’.
The couple ‘couldn’t fault’ the original kitchen layout, but the material palette called for a significant update. New American oak cabinetry was installed, complementing beautiful benchtops and a splashback in ‘golden spider’ marble. ‘It has the most beautiful peachy golden veins and body moving through it – a match made for the surrounding timber and warm light that glides through this family space,’ says Alexandra.
The completed home is breezy in summer and cosy in winter, surrounded by the family’s garden. ‘We live so happily here,’ Alexandra says.