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A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Homes

We recently profiled the historic Beverley Hills flats in South Yarra, Melbourne, but we couldn’t resist a closer look at one of the individual apartments inside!

Interior Designer Leigh Ellwood is a relatively new resident of the famous 1930s apartment block. She’s known of the complex for over 30 years, but was still struck by the light-filled interiors when inspecting this particular apartment for sale – and couldn’t resist snapping it up!

Leigh invited us in for a tour of her calm and content space, personalised with a thoughtful edit of furniture and design objects, and a brilliantly eclectic art collection.

17th August, 2022

Inside interior designer Leigh Ellwood’s apartment in the Beverley Hills complex in South Yarra, Melbourne. Flos Toio Floor Lamp. Vitsœ storage. Svenskt Tenn cushion. Loom rug.  Large painting by Heather B. Swann from Station Gallery. Painting in shelves by Lewis Miller. Ptolomeo bookcase. Artek bed. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Leigh Ellwood in her home. Oak wardrobes designed by Leigh and built by Alex Penfold. Leather handles by MadeMeasure. Great Dane Furniture Tati Mirror. Upper artwork by Matlok Griffiths. Lower artwork by Dom Gray. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Akari pendant light. Togo Ligne Roset sofa and footstool upholstered in lilac Kvadrat velvet. Painting by Heather B. Swann from Station Gallery. ClassiCon side table. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artworks from left to right: Ken Whisson, STEN LEX, Ollie Guyon, Joe Furlonger, Terri Brooks, Rob McHaffie, Eleanor Louise Butt, Noel McKenna, Graham Collins, Louise Gresswell, Kevin McNamee-Tweed. Togo Ligne Roset sofa upholstered in lilac Kvadrat velvet. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Vitsœ storage. Ptolomeo bookcase. Painting on right by Heather B. Swann from Station Gallery. Painting in shelves by Lewis Miller. Artek bed. Loom rug. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Vitsœ storage unit. Ceramic cameras by Alan Constable. House by David Band. Painting by Lewis Miller. Woven baskets by First Nations artists in West Arnhem Land. Svenskt Tenn cushion on a chair found in hard rubbish. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Antique plate on left by Noel McKenna. Plates on right all by Stephen Bird. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Le Klint The Bouquet pendant. Hans Wegner for Carl Hansen & Son CH29 dining chairs. Artek table. Loom vintage rug. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Upper artwork by Stephen Bird. Lower artwork by Lewis Miller. ‘The kitchen is a tiny galley style! Every kitchen in Beverley Hills is. When I bought my place it had recently been given a white makeover but lacked in storage and was blindingly white as the large windows face east. I changed the lighting throughout and added dimmer switches; this has altered the mood tremendously,’ says Leigh. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘I decided to wallpaper in an oversized abstract paper by Elitis to “grubby” up the space and adsorb light. It’s vinyl too, so it will survive the usual kitchen splatters. I added Vitsœ storage and a brass pot rail. Down the track I would like to reconfigure walls but for now I’m enjoying this phase!’ Leigh says. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Elitis cushions. Society bed throw. Artemide Tolomeo Table lamp. Vintage Lyfa wall sconce. Artek Stool 60 in Birch. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artwork by Noel Skrzypczak from Neon Parc. Hans Bølling side table. Artemide Tolomeo Table lamp. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Vintage Hans Wegner oak chest of drawers. Ptolomeo bookcase. Artek bed. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artwork clockwise from top left: Julian Martin from Arts Project Australia. Eleanor Louise Butt from Nicholas Thompson Gallery. Noel McKenna from Niagara Galleries. Susie Hansen ceramic figure. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Culliton painting. Loom rug. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Artwork by Julian Martin. Les Dormeurs by Lelièvre wallpaper. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The 1935-36 Beverley Hills flats were designed by Howard R Lawson. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The Spanish Mission-style walkup features ornate balustrades, leadlight windows, generous communal spaces, and tropical landscaping set around a central pool.Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 17th August 2022

‘It’s truly an inspiring experience just to walk outside. Friends cannot believe it when they visit!’ – Leigh Ellwood

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood has long admired the 1930s Beverley Hills flats and its intriguing presence in Melbourne’s South Yarra, overlooking the river. 

She visited the complex in the ‘90s when friends and colleagues lived on site, but remembers the grounds being ‘very rustic’ with wild and overgrown gardens. 

When Leigh inspected one of the Beverley Hills apartments for sale three decades later, it was a different story entirely. ‘I was struck and delighted by the light in the apartment, especially in the bedroom, where two large leadlight bay windows look into lush tree foliage. It made me feel so immediately calm and content.’

Leigh couldn’t resist the apartment and its South Yarra location so close to the city, Yarra River, and the Botanic Gardens. 

Since moving in at the start of the year, Leigh has made only a few cosmetic changes to the apartment. Pieces have been sourced with lifelong use in mind, including a Ligne Roset Togo sofa upholstered in lilac Kvadrat velvet, Vitsœ storage, and custom bedroom wardrobes designed by Leigh and made by builder Alex Penfold.

These pieces all sit in harmony, complementing Leigh’s ‘idiosyncratic’ art collection of works including those by Heather B. Swann, Eleanor Louise Butt, Louise Gresswell, Julian Martin, Stephen Bird, Lewis Miller, and Jon Campbell.

The addition of wallpaper in the hallway and kitchen further instils an eclectic, yet elegant feel to the apartment. ‘They are both unexpected textures, and the kitchen is definitely benefitting from an absorption of bright morning sunlight,’ says Leigh.

Leigh finds Beverley Hills’ architecture, community, and tropical gardens (that remind her of Queensland, where she’s from) to be a constant source of inspiration. ‘It’s truly an inspiring experience just to walk outside. Friends cannot believe it when they visit!’

Most days you’ll find Leigh with her cats Yama and Hiro taking in the morning sun from the dining table, or relaxing around the pool in summer. ‘I’ve spent many late afternoons and summer evenings chatting to my neighbours in sun loungers by the pool,’ Leigh says. ‘We are also lucky enough to have a communal rooftop on this building — perfect for drying sheets and a sunset Negroni.’ Dream!

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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