Prior to 2020, Bridget Ryan and Adam Slater were renting a 1960s apartment in Elsternwick, Melbourne. The property was in dire need of an update, but the couple loved living there, so they only agreed to move if they found something better.
Adam came across the listing for this Carnegie home for sale in mid 2020. ‘He only half seriously sent it to me, finding the 1980s fittings and furniture, paired with the heavy timber clad ceiling a bit too “ski lodge” for his tastes!’ says Bridget, who is a senior designer and associate at Nexus Designs.
They attended the inspection, and Bridget left feeling ‘completely obsessed.’
‘Adam was right. For me, the love for the house was immediate. The orientation to north, the bagged block work, Oregon beams, clerestory windows, light-filled spaces (even the toilet has a skylight!), floor-to-ceiling glazing, glass bricks and the connection to the outdoors had all the hallmarks of a mid-century modern style build.
‘It also has a super tidy floor plan. It’s doughnut shaped — all the amenities are located in the centre — and you find yourself back at the front door if you keep walking in one direction.’
Needless to say, Bridget and Adam bought the home.
They discovered the house was originally constructed by renowned Melbourne builders Fasham Johnson. ‘Despite having a mid-century modern flavour, the house was built in 1982,’ says Bridget. ‘The original owner along with our current neighbours had the block subdivided and two residences built. They were great friends and it was only just before the house went on the market that a fence between the two properties was built.’
Since moving in, Bridget and Adam have made only cosmetic updates to the property. They already loved the timber veneer kitchen (‘Certainly of the era, it’s a feature that keeps the house feeling original, but surprisingly doesn’t feel too retro,’ says Bridget), so they’ve simply refreshed it by removing some dated appliances and splashback tiles.
‘Lockdowns gave us plenty of time to paint, install new lighting, rip out some very 1980s tiled splashbacks and fittings, install new door handles (quite a process!), replace the side-by-side oven/cooktop with a freestanding Smeg oven, and take down a verandah that blocked a lot of lovely northern light.’
Bridget was inspired by the photo archives of Nexus Designs, where she works, who long collaborated with mid-century builders Merchant Builders. ‘Marimekko prints, Italian plastic furniture, Bentwood chairs, and colours that reference the Australian landscape were some of the key characteristics that Nexus helped introduce into the Australian interior design zeitgeist of the 60s and 70s,’ says Bridget.
The Laminex yellow table is a nod to this era, crafted from a leftover panel found in the Nexus studio, and paired with IKEA legs. ‘It’s a short-term dining table solution but it is extremely joyful and is such a terrific colour,’ says Bridget.
Adam and Bridget aspire for the home to feel unpretentious, relaxed, and welcoming. They’ll make more changes as their newborn son Quin grows up (he was only five weeks old at the time of this photo shoot!).
Bridget says, ‘We want the house to grow with him. It should be somewhere he can hang his first drawing on the wall, have some (tasteful haha) toys hanging around and get up to mischief in the backyard.’