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A Handcrafted Hurstbridge Home With History + Heart

Homes

Susie Silverii and Laurence Parisi appreciate great design, and were willing to move to find it. 

After years living in Melbourne’s inner-east, the couple inspected multiple properties designed by Alistair Knox, until discovering this 1978 house on 20 acres in Hurstbridge, designed by Knox’s right hand man, John Pizzey. 

Susie, Laurence, and their three children (Oli, 10; Alfie, 6; and; Lulu, 2) are only the second owners of this handmade house – a legacy they’ve maintained through conversations with the vendors, and sympathetic renovations.

27th April, 2022

The view from the kitchen and dining room inside Susie’s family home! Dining table made from recycled pine from Gumtree. Leather dining chairs in Teak and Natural from Fenton & Fenton. All indoor plants from local nurseries. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Susie with daughter Lulu, 2, on their 20 acre property. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Webbing sideboard, Marble Terrazzo Board and white metal flowerpot from House of Orange. Goblet Metal Pot from Lightly. Watering Can in White Garden To Table glazing from Robert Gordon. Ballet Vase by Kaz Morton Ceramics from Greenhouse Interiors. Large original artwork by Michelle Fogharty, framed by Forman Art and Framing. Original limes and jug artwork by Laura Thomas framed by Forman Art and Framing. The handrail was repurposed from a building in Collins Street in the 1970s. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Webbing sideboard, Marble Terrazzo Board and white metal flowerpot from House of Orange. Goblet Metal Pot from Lightly. Watering Can in White Garden To Table glazing from Robert Gordon. Ballet Vase by Kaz Morton Ceramics from Greenhouse Interiors. Large original artwork by Michelle Fogharty, framed by Forman Art and Framing. Original limes and jug artwork by Laura Thomas framed by Forman Art and Framing.  Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The original kitchen featuring solid Tasmanian oak cabinetry and bench tops. Belling Richmond Induction Cooker. Original Lise Temple countryside painting framed by Forman Art and Framing. Green planter by Robert GordonGeorgia Ezra Clay Oil Decanter and Raku Spoon Rest by AHW Georgia Ezra. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Original Tasmanian oak cabinetry and bench tops. Minokoyo tiles from Academy Tiles.  Dining table made from recycled pine from Gumtree. Leather dining chairs in Teak and Natural from Fenton & Fenton. The half wall was constructed with recycled handmade bricks from Richmond Primary School, mixed with other handmade recycled bricks from Castlemaine. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The dreamy kitchen makes the most of the picturesque views! Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘Pop’ original art by Kate Owen for Greenhouse Interiors. Raku clay cross by Emma Gale purchased from Fenton & Fenton. Acrylic on linen original painting by Betty Mbitjana from Mandel Aboriginal Art Gallery. Hugo Arc Occasional Chair in Rust Speckle from Globewest. Dampier 70 cotton lantern from The Society Ink. Grampian Rug in Ebony from Trit House. Original ‘Flowers & Fruit’ oil on wood by Melanie Vugich. Slate for the fireplace hearth reclaimed from Richmond Primary School. Recycled handmade bricks from Richmond Primary School and Castlemaine were used to construct the fireplace chimneys and half walls. Bricks for the flooring were purchased new from a Camberwell quarry. The home features heated floors throughout. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Webbing single door cabinet from House of Orange. ‘Pop’ original art by Kate Owen for Greenhouse Interiors. Raku Clay cross by Emma Gale purchased from Fenton & Fenton. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Matt White Vase from House of Orange. Deer antler found on the property. Original artworks by Alexandra Plim (small abstract), Janey Forbes (mustard vase and stripes) and Jade Fisher (botanicals). Whisper White 2pac V-groove joinery by Ultracraft Cabinetry. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Flower Vase Ribbed in coral and shell vases from House of Orange. Original oil on wood painting (Greek cross) by Melanie Vugich. Original framed canvas artwork by Mel Obst. Original painting on paper by Kate Pittas, framed by Forman Art and Framing. French natural mirror by The Family Love Tree. Jai Vasicek ceramic cross. Rattan and recycled teak drawers by Inartisan. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The view from the main living room to the master bedroom wing. Bricks for the flooring were purchased new from Camberwell Quarry. Recycled handmade bricks from Richmond Primary School and Castlemaine were used to construct the open fireplace chimneys. Grampian Rug in Ebony from Trit House. Teak webbing coffee table, Earthenware Side Table and Matt White Vase from House of Orange. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Bed linen by Home Republic. Claude rattan bed head and French Natural Mirror by The Family Love Tree. Dampier 70 cotton lantern from The Society Ink. Natural leather bench from Lounge Lovers. Rattan and recycled teak drawers by Inartisan. Original oil on wood painting (Greek cross) by Melanie Vugich. Original framed canvas artwork by Mel Obst. Flower Vase Ribbed in coral and shell vase from House of Orange. Loop pile wool carpet from Carpet Court. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Many of the home’s large timber pieces were sourced from a demolition yard in Melbourne’s inner north in the 1970s. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The spare bedroom. Linen by Home Republic and Sage and Clare. Large original abstract painting by Marinka Parnham, framed by Forman Art and Framing. Candle and jug original painting with collage by Laura Thomas. Blue vase original painting with collage by Kate Eliza. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Original sawn timber walls coated in linseed oil feature throughout the home. Rattan coat hanger sourced from Etsy. Banks cotton lantern from The Society Ink. Mirror from The Family Love Tree. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

 

Acrylic on linen original painting by Betty Mbitjana from Mandel Aboriginal Art Gallery. Biscuit/Limoncello Double Sided Quilt and Citron Check Euro pillowcases by Society of Wanderers. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Brass drawer pulls by Fog Linen Work. White concrete basins from Schots Home Emporium. Marble tray from Provincial Home Living. Three Orb Wall Light by Light Co. Shower floor terrazzo tiles and Japanese ceramic glazed Hida wall tiles by Academy Tiles. Timber walls painted in Dulux Whisper White. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Brass drawer pulls by Fog Linen Work.  White concrete basins from Schots Home Emporium. Rectangular marble tray from Provincial Home Living. Three Orb Wall Light by Light Co. Shower floor terrazzo tiles and Japanese ceramic glazed Hida wall tiles by Academy Tiles. Timber walls painted in Dulux Whisper White. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘Thoughtful, considered updates were made to remain faithful to the original design of the home,’ Susie says. ‘In the powder room, the original hand basin was kept but the red powder coated taps were stripped back to brass. Tiles were used to cover only sections of the floors and walls that were damaged during the renovation process.’ Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘My favourite space in this home is the laundry. I’m very proud of how the laundry looks, feels, and functions.’ Vic Ash timber benchtop and floating shelf by Ultracraft Cabinetry and Dulux Whisper White 2pac V-groove joinery with rattan inserts by Ultracraft Cabinetry. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘Unlike modern houses, where the kitchen and entertaining areas are usually located at the rear, the kitchen, dining and outdoor entertaining areas are located at the front of this 1978 home,’ Susie notes. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Large eaves wrap around the entire house and protect the mud brick walls from the elements. Pine lined ceilings feature internally and externally, providing a sense of flow and continuity. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘Perched up on a hill, the property boasts some amazing views,’ Susie says. The large pool, which had been empty for years, was the first thing her family restored. It is edged in bluestone pavers and has a raised charcoal deck at one end. Sunranger Cafe Umbrella in ash black and white stripe from Shade Australia. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘Having purchased the land in 1972, the original owners worked hard to pay off the mortgage before building in 1978,’ Susie adds. ‘They sourced many recycled materials themselves in preparation for their build.’ The three lead light windows originally came from a church in Briagolong, Victoria. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 27th April 2022

‘It’s more about the experiences this home is allowing us to experience; the memories it is helping us to make; and the feelings it is making us feel.’

Susie Silverii and Laurence Parisi spent years dreaming of buying land to raise their growing family on. They inspected several homes in Melbourne’s outer north-east to make a tree change happen, including several by famous local designer Alistair Knox (1912-1986), but none were quite right in their current state.

‘Many of these homes had very quirky floor plans that required too much work, or they weren’t large enough for our growing family. I was only ever prepared to make a tree change if we found a perfect Knox match for us,’ explains Susie. ‘Fortunately, we came across this home on 20 acres of private bushland, and were lucky enough to move in just before the pandemic exploded here in Melbourne.’

This particular home in Hurstbridge (a town just north-east of Melbourne) was built by Knox, but designed by John Pizzey, who was Knox’s right hand man for 15 years before starting his own architecture practice. Laurence and Susie loved the home’s floor plan, and learning about its rich history from the vendors who commissioned the house back in 1978.

‘It was untouched, in completely original condition, and something we felt we could put our own stamp on. We fell in love with the views, being high up on a hill, and on 20 acres of very private natural bushland. It had an instant, calming feel,’ Susie says. 

Through their conversations with the former owners, Laurence and Susie have learned many details about the home’s origins. The mud bricks were made from clay sourced from a local dam, the fireplace slate hearths and thousands of bricks were salvaged from the original Richmond Primary School; timbers were sourced from a demolition yard; and the three leadlight windows came from a church in Briagolong, Gippsland! 

Nearly all of these original details remain today in the timber ceilings, restored mud brick walls, brick flooring, and open fireplaces wrapped in recycled apricot bricks. ‘There is not a single plaster wall in this house,’ says Susie. 

Laurence and Susie haven’t made any structural changes to the property, although many rooms have been given a sympathetic, cosmetic update. Most significantly, they renovated the bathrooms and laundry to feature partially tiled and Dulux Whisper White walls, and the pool has been restored. 

‘The renovation/restoration process mostly involved problem solving,’ says Susie . ‘It was sometimes challenging to remain faithful to the original design while trying to adapt it for modern family living, staying within budget for each space, and working with the uneven floors and walls of this handmade house.’

Susie loves so many details of this home, but what she appreciates most is the way it makes her family feel. ‘It’s more about the experiences this home is allowing us to experience; the memories it is helping us to make; and the feelings it is making us feel,’ she says. ‘We love that it is a sustainable home and that we are preserving a piece of local history.’

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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