Cremorne is a small, partially industrial Melbourne suburb close to the CBD, sporting arenas, Botanic Gardens, and the Yarra River. Not many homes come up for sale in this area, so when a single-fronted Victorian terrace hit the market, Jaime and Dylan Vella knew they had to take a look.
The property had three bedrooms, north-facing windows, and was easily enhanceable…but it was on a main road. ‘I was initially hesitant with the location,’ says Jaime Vella, who is an interior designer and co-owner of Itself Studio. ‘However, when we saw the property, it was so much better than anything we had seen up to that point in our search that we instantly knew that we wanted it.’
The couple bought the house without a building inspection in the midst of the booming 2016 property market. Fortunately, it was structurally sound, and ripe for renovation.
Jaime and Dylan haven’t extended the home, but have significantly reconfigured the existing floor plan to include a second bathroom (achieved by taking down a brick wall to get an extra 100mm of space) and a more functional living area that better utilises its northern aspect.
Large glass doors open to reveal a new internal courtyard, that invites maximum light and greenery into the home.
In designing the interiors, Jaime says she wasn’t inspired by a particular style, but the idea of elevating daily rituals and instilling a sense of calm. ‘It probably speaks more to an atmosphere than an aesthetic,’ she explains.
‘Like the rest of Melbourne, we really enjoy coffee, and this is something we specifically designed for: our little morning coffee spot where we can sit in the sun and enjoy a slow morning coffee.’
The main interior walls are painted Dulux Vivid White with vibrant colour introduced through the furniture (including the custom dining table in Dulux Misty Moore) art, bathroom tiles, natural stone, and carpet.
‘A lot of colour is brought in through the joinery, which is all American oak, and the beautiful soft pink of the granite which has a leathered texture,’ says Jaime. ‘The main bathroom is pink, but it’s actually really neutral because it’s so much of the same tile.’
The renovation also features new plumbing, electrics, heating, kitchen, laundry, flooring, joinery and plaster — all of which were designed by Jaime, with most of the building works completed by Dylan. The couple lived in the home throughout the renovation, which took about two years.
‘We did the majority of this work ourselves. When I say “we,” I mostly mean Dylan, who worked for two years on this project while still working full time,’ says Jaime.
‘There were points in the project we really thought we couldn’t go on and we had lots of support from our amazing families and friends — who are actual tradies — and without this we would have got really stuck.’
As for the main road Jaime was initially concerned about — it hasn’t been an issue. The couple added a new rear entrance to the home during the renovation, and the layout is now oriented towards the back laneway — away from the hustle and bustle outside.
‘The main living areas are all towards the back of the house and really aren’t affected by the street at all,’ Jaime says. ‘Probably the only sounds you hear is the roar of fans and sirens from the MCG when a match is on, and they are pretty great sounds to hear.’