We had originally asked Rob Brown of Casey Brown Architecture to design us a completely new home on the adjoining block. At the last minute we decided to stay where we have been for the last 40 years. Building on the new block would have meant being in a narrower house on more levels and pulling away from the foreshore. Remodelling the older place meant we could have more room to move laterally so we decided to open it up and let the kids and grand-kids run.
This had been a family home and we were keen that the refurbishment retain that feeling, not precious. There’s a large table right in the centre of things that sits the 16 of us for our weekly family dinners. We also wanted more of the feeling of an inside/outside house. The imperative was to downsize, modernise and de-clutter so we consolidated some of the separate rooms to make larger spaces. From our ‘adult’s space’ in the middle of it all, we can still hear everyone—especially the grandchildren as they go off into their own areas.
Bellevarde built our country house and they’d been so enjoyable to work with that, when it came to do our city home, they were the only builder on our short list. Credit must go to Bellevarde’s Matt Misek who has been at the heart of the refurbishment. He’s managed to create perfect translations of what Rob Brown and Caroline Casey, from Casey Brown Architecture, and I had envisaged. We limited the materials to the bare minimum—concrete, wood and mixed metals. With their usual skill and determination, Bellevarde have seen that everything is beautifully made. Each element has more than lived up to expectations. John Fielding was his usual, practical and brilliant self. The team were so easy to get along with, friendly and polite.
Caroline and I spent a good deal of time sourcing the elements that make up the interior. The lampshades were our first purchase. I was drawn to the colours as they pick up tones and shades of the artworks we already had. Rob knew I was an avid art collector and made sure there was enough wall space for all my favourite pieces. Bellevarde ensured the walls are perfectly rendered. We have the lamps placed over the large dining table in such a way that it feels right whether there are 16 of us or just two.
Matt has done such a great job on the house that we’ve put him in charge of re-doing the boat-shed. It’s turned out to be a bigger job than we first anticipated. We feel lucky to have had the Bellevarde guys at hand. Any issues were solved before they became problems. Things got fixed instantaneously. They collaborated beautifully with us and the architects and took great pride in their work.
The adjoining block has now become a garden and Bellevarde are working with Bates Landscape to see that job completed too. Our second major project with Bellevarde has been a huge success. Thanks to John, Matt and the whole team.