Sometimes it is easier to start from scratch—imagining a whole space and choosing every detail to serve a new creative vision. But Australian interior designer David Flack, founder and head of Flack Studio, decided to assign himself the challenge of retaining some beautiful, original elements of this 15-year-old, faux Georgian duplex located in the inner east Melbourne area. The herringbone parquet floors, solid panelled doors, 3.6-metre-high ceilings, charming mouldings and travertine bathroom tiles were preserved and combined with some graphic, new components.
“Removing the French-inspired frills from this duplex and adding some graphic contemporary features was the key to the modern interpretation of this residence,” David says.
The 300-square-metre apartment is spread over one level and comprises a basement with a car park and cinema. The single, retired occupant had to wait for months—four for the initial design plus five for the renovation process—before moving, in February 2016, into what she now calls her “forever space.”
“My home is a warm space that is minimal and classy,” she says. “I love the feeling and ambience. It has generous proportions with plenty of natural light.”
In addition to two generous bedrooms—the master ensuite and the guest bedroom, both with their own ensuite and walk-in robe–the duplex hosts an open-plan living area with a kitchen, formal dining and living area that form an L-shape and are accessible by double doors. Adjacent to the living area, which opens out to a private sun drenched courtyard, is a formal living room. The rest of the space hosts a study with an en suite that could function as a third bedroom, a powder room, a generous storeroom and a laundry.
“Our client is cautious with colour and she wanted a bright space,” David says. “Our studio is known for using punches of deep tones, so we explored colour through depth of materiality such as hand-rubbed bronze detailing, chocolate oak flooring, black American oak cabinetry and Calacatta marble. It was important this home felt sophisticated at all times for entertaining, however, it needed to be comfortable.” Playing with limited materials gave the space strength and helped find the perfect balance between dark and light, contemporary and classic, masculine and delicate.
“This home has a modern quality, yet it almost feels old,” David says. “You can walk away and you do not know when this was finished. I believe this exemplifies what ‘new modern’ is. Monolithic detailing, repetition and a simple palette really create this sense of warmth and sophistication. ‘Modernism’ was simple in its execution yet always had one striking detail that was repeated. In this case, it is the inlay of bronze detailing throughout—a little punch of glitz.”
The designer’s team explored with the bronzing of brass, a process derived from applying an acid to raw brass. “The more acid and rubbing you apply, the darker the brass becomes,” David explains. After testing many samples, the final result was beautifully achieved. Against the clean strong lines of the joinery, the hand-mark gestures throughout create a certain harmony, born out of juxtaposition.
The Beetle chairs by Gubi, Bristol sofas by Poliform, Trapeze 10 pendant light by Apparatus Studio and a Serge Mouille ceiling lamp are some of the many exquisite pieces that adorn every corner with understated elegance. Feeling perfectly at ease among this decor, the owner loves sitting near the open fire and reading a book, enjoying the natural light and spending time with her grandchildren when they come over, especially in the kitchen—her favourite space. “I love black and simple materials.” she says. “I am a true minimalist.”