James Vivian and Ben Esakoff felt like the walls of their Cremorne cottage were closing in during Melbourne’s 2020-21 lockdowns, so they went in search of a larger home.
After numerous unsuccessful auctions across the state, a text message led James and Ben to finally finding their perfect new home in Prahran, which was previously owned and designed by their friend, Gilad ‘Gil’ Ritz of architecture practice Ritz&Ghougassian.
James says, ‘One day I said to Ben (in jest), “Shall I text Gil and see if they want to sell us their house?”…Gil replied, ‘Yes!’
The house is a semi-detached Edwardian that features a strong contemporary addition, celebrating exposed concrete and steel in its honest form, around a lush internal courtyard.
With its distinct old and new components, the property is perfectly suited to James and Ben’s contrasting design styles. ‘James has overtaken the old aspect with artwork and decor that suits his style, whilst the newer zones are more pared back and let the architecture do the talking,’ explains Ben.
Reilly washed chambray bedding from Sheridan provides a subtly textured accent akin to the cool brick walls and grid-like forms within the new addition, without overpowering the period architecture in the front rooms. Elsewhere, textural upholstered furniture and soft furnishings including the Woodsdale Cushion soften the hard edges of this space.
James and Ben love the privacy their home offers that feels far removed from its central Melbourne location. The internal courtyard garden with native planting provides a leafy outlook away from the busy streets outside, and the clean architectural lines remind them of Palm Springs, where they were married in 2015.
‘We love that it was made with such care and attention to detail. It is incredibly light and warm. Once inside, you really could be anywhere in the world,’ says James.
Storage has been maximised on the 300 square metre site through thoughtfully concealed spotted gum joinery. In fact, James says the house has been designed so well, it sometimes feels too practical! ‘There are hints of Japanese architecture, mid-century nods and the amount of storage feels, at times, overwhelming. We often cannot find things!’
For James, home is a place where you look forward to opening the door. He appreciates the sanctuary-like feel of this space, which provides much needed respite from his busy work life. The passionate dermal therapist, who opened his eponymous skincare clinic in Melbourne 10 years ago, has also recently launched his own cosmeceutical skincare line, Viviology, with Adore Beauty. The Australian-made and cruelty-free line has been a labour of love for James, who describes the range as ‘everything you need to start your skincare journey, and nothing you don’t’.
All in all, this is a home that provides the perfect backdrop for both work and life. Robust and hard wearing, it’s the perfect canvas for the couple’s beloved art collection, and importantly, allows them breathing space to unwind and reconnect at the end of each busy day.
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