This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

An Under-The-Radar Modernist Masterpiece In The Dandenongs

Homes

When we first came across images of this house, we couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing!

Usually a mid-century house of this calibre has been well-documented in books and magazines, and yet this near-original condition property with an amazing indoor garden and pond is almost completely unknown!

Located in Melbourne’s Ferny Creek, on the edge of the Dandenong Ranges, the house has been in the hands of White Salt Photography owner Janine Harris and her family since 2014. They’ve restored the original living spaces, while renovating the bathrooms and a kitchen to suit their young family. 

Prepare yourselves folks… this is one very special home!

14th September, 2022

The indoor garden was first established when the house was built in the late ’60s featuring an indoor pond with many goldfish and a turtle called Minty! Terrazzo tiles by Signorino. Couch and coffee table by Mark Tuckey. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The lower living room. Craig Parnaby painting. Built in couch designed by Ashlee Bennett from Haus of Hanem. Carpet from Floorspace. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The house is owned by White Salt Photography founder Janine Harris. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Couch and coffee table by Mark Tuckey. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Split levels similar to the 1969 Featherston House subtly define the living areas. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘This is the perfect space to hang out with the kids on a Sunday afternoon in front of a fire,’ says owner Janine Harris. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

A kitchen renovation by Smith & Smith was completed in 2015. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Bobby Clark artwork. Terrazzo tiles by Signorino. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Warm timber panelling on the bedroom walls. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

The bathroom was renovated in 2019, replacing the original ’60s design. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Minor changes including new plantings, concrete steps, and river rocks have been added to the indoor garden over time. Terrazzo tiles by Signorino. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

New double-glazed steel windows and the front door were installed in the recent renovation. Photography – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 14th September 2022

‘We instantly fell in love with the design and saw potential to make this place the house of our dreams. ’ – Janine Harris

Little is known about the history of this incredible modernist home in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges owned by White Salt Photography founder Janine Harris, Sam Harris, and their children Luca (10) and Juno (5).

When the couple purchased the property in 2014, they were told it was built in the late 1960s (although previous real estate listings say ‘70s) by an owner-builder over 10 years (!) and designed by his architect son. Janine and Sam were immediately taken with its unique features – warm timber panelling, exposed brick, and a remarkable indoor garden and pond. 

‘The house was filled with light from the setting sun, and the views were breathtaking. We instantly fell in love with the design and saw potential to make this place the house of our dreams,’ says Janine. 

The living areas are the heart of the home and remain in near-original condition. The front door opens directly onto this space, which is subtly separated by the fireplace, lush indoor garden, and split levels similar to the 1969 Featherston House. There’s even a turtle (named Minty!) and gold fish in the indoor pond!

A kitchen renovation was completed by Smith & Smith in 2015, followed by more extensive alterations designed by Ashlee Bennett from Haus of Hanem in 2018. This project involved the installation of steel windows and doors that better frame the surrounding leafy landscape; the replacement of all flooring including sympathetic terrazzo tiles; and a complete overhaul of the bathroom. Concrete steppers were also added to the garden for a more contemporary feel.

Other additions such as solar panels and underfloor heating have made the property more sustainable and comfortable.

Janine calls the property the perfect house for four. Eight years on, she’s also never tired of property’s outlook across the trees. ‘The living room has views over St Kilda and the bay, which is magical at sunset and nighttime, looking at the city lights.’

We’d love to know more about the history of this one-of-a-kind home. If any readers have any intel, we’re all ears! 

This Week

Architecture

An Inside Look At Domain Park: Melbourne’s Revolutionary 1960s Apartment Building

Once the tallest residential building in Melbourne, Robin Boyd's Domain Park (1962) paved the way for a new era of apartment living.

Shopping

Sarah Ellison + Pantone Team Up To Create The 70s-Inspired Sofa Of Our Dreams

Meet Sarah Ellison's luxurious retro-inspired sofa, FLOAT, wrapped in its custom Pantone colour; a rich coffee brown called Piccolo!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

News

Typo's New Homewares Range Has Everything You Need For A 'Big Night In'

The local brand known for their playful stationary and homewares has released their latest range of quirky bean bags, cushions and decor!
Sponsored
2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras
1.58

One Room Wonders

Before + After: An Arty + Eclectic Kids Bedroom Transformation

See how we transformed a simple space into a fun and colourful kids bedroom (in just one week!) with Surround by Laminex.
Lucy Feagins
  2 hours ago

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

News

An Unmissable Pop-Up This Saturday Bringing Together Melbourne’s Best Creatives!

The exciting 005 Abode pop-up features stalls from makers like Lucy Tolan, Ella Reweti, Fisch and more in Alt-House’s Fitzroy warehous...
Christina Karras

Art

This Vibrant Exhibition Brings Together Traditional Sculpture + Contemporary Art For A Story On Legacy

Brunswick Street Gallery presents 'Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region'; a bold showcase of the strength of Wik Kugu culture. 

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.

Similar Stories

Homes

A Handcrafted Hurstbridge Home With History + Heart

The mud brick home of Susie Silverii and Laurence Parisi, designed by Alistair Knox’s right hand man John Pizzey.

Homes

A Mid-Century Renovation That Masterfully Blends Old And New

An incredible mid-century home in Ivanhoe East, brought back to life by owners interior designer Sarah Conly and engineer Hugh O’Brien.

Homes

The 1970s Mudbrick Home Of Jewellery Designer Olivia Cummings + The Teskey Brothers Drummer Liam Gough

The prolific creative couple share their perfect work-from-home haven, surrounded by towering trees and native wildlife.

This Week

2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.

Art

This Vibrant Exhibition Brings Together Traditional Sculpture + Contemporary Art For A Story On Legacy

Brunswick Street Gallery presents 'Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region'; a bold showcase of the strength of Wik Kugu culture. 

News

An Unmissable Pop-Up This Saturday Bringing Together Melbourne’s Best Creatives!

The exciting 005 Abode pop-up features stalls from makers like Lucy Tolan, Ella Reweti, Fisch and more in Alt-House’s Fitzroy warehous...
Christina Karras

Shopping

Sarah Ellison + Pantone Team Up To Create The 70s-Inspired Sofa Of Our Dreams

Meet Sarah Ellison's luxurious retro-inspired sofa, FLOAT, wrapped in its custom Pantone colour; a rich coffee brown called Piccolo!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.

Architecture

An Inside Look At Domain Park: Melbourne’s Revolutionary 1960s Apartment Building

Once the tallest residential building in Melbourne, Robin Boyd's Domain Park (1962) paved the way for a new era of apartment living.

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

News

Typo's New Homewares Range Has Everything You Need For A 'Big Night In'

The local brand known for their playful stationary and homewares has released their latest range of quirky bean bags, cushions and decor!
Sponsored

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras
1.58

One Room Wonders

Before + After: An Arty + Eclectic Kids Bedroom Transformation

See how we transformed a simple space into a fun and colourful kids bedroom (in just one week!) with Surround by Laminex.
Lucy Feagins
  2 hours ago

Similar Stories

Homes

A Handcrafted Hurstbridge Home With History + Heart

The mud brick home of Susie Silverii and Laurence Parisi, designed by Alistair Knox’s right hand man John Pizzey.

Homes

A Mid-Century Renovation That Masterfully Blends Old And New

An incredible 1960s mid-century home restoration in Ivanhoe East.

Homes

The 1970s Mudbrick Home Of Jewellery Designer Olivia Cummings + The Teskey Brothers Drummer Liam Gough

The prolific creative couple share their perfect work-from-home haven, surrounded by towering trees and native wildlife.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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