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This spacious home is an exercise in luxurious minimalism

A couple on a mission for more space found just what they needed – and it was practically on their doorstep

Serendipity was surely at play when Melissa and Marc Gibson embarked on their most recent house-hunting exercise. “With the arrival of our son Hugh four years ago, we quickly realised we had outgrown our two-bedroom home and extending just wasn’t an option,” says Melissa. “We loved the location, but more space for our family was the top priority, so our search expanded to the north, east and west.” As it turned out, they needn’t have looked that far.

The couple – also parents to seven-year-old Madeleine – had many reasons to cheerfully sign on the dotted line. Built in the late 19th century, this house is located just 500 metres up the road from the house they were farewelling, in the same leafy and lively neighbourhood that is close to both parks and cafes. “We have always loved the vibrancy of the area,” says Melissa.

This home also offered more generous proportions – 4.5 metres at its widest point compared to 3.4 metres at their previous house – plus the bonus of a parking area. “It’s not massive, but it felt grand to us,” says Melissa.

That said, Melissa and Marc were conscious that the property was ripe for restoration, having been stripped almost entirely of its gracious heritage details. What they did not fully appreciate, says Melissa, was that a complete redesign was needed. “We knew we wanted to improve the property, we just didn’t understand the extent of improvement that was required to do the job properly,” she says. “The house was plagued with ageing house problems – rising damp, creaking floors, even weeds sprouting from the skirting boards.”

Reinstating Victorian-era embellishments such as ceiling roses, cornicing, decorative architraves and skirting was on the agenda too. “We wanted to ensure the period details were there, but make it feel comfortable for contemporary living,” says Melissa.

The Gibsons rented the home out while they refined their wishlist and set the renovation wheels in motion. After a year of planning, they were ready to begin and engaged an architect, builder, and interior designer, Bianca Fraser, to make it happen.

Certainly, Bianca was excited by the considerable task at hand. “The house was in a liveable condition as it was, but the floor plan was awkward and the finishes and overall aesthetic needed to be updated,” she says. “Melissa and Marc had a very specific brief for the overall look and feel, including herringbone flooring, wainscoting and gold fixtures – quite a French feel. They wanted to live somewhere beautiful, but most importantly it had to look, feel and function as a family home.”

Over a period of 16 months, the Gibsons’ vision took shape – almost from the ground up. “The only walls retained were the external ones,” says Bianca. On the ground floor, the staircase and kitchen were relocated and a combined powder room and laundry added. On the first floor, each of the two bedrooms gained ensuites and the attic space was transformed into a third bedroom with ensuite bathroom and a study nook on the landing outside. At the rear of the property, there is a new garage with self-contained guest suite above. “We wanted a private space for our friends and family to stay with us when they visit,” says Melissa.

Bianca says that reinvigorating the interiors was a joyous exercise. Her aim was to imbue the home with a tone that is simultaneously inviting, luxurious and serene. The milky palette of white and soft greys provides a soothing backdrop for the recurring accents of aged brass, marble, oak and terrazzo.

“The brass fittings patina with age,” says Bianca. “It’s a sign of people and life, and makes the home feel lived-in, while the use of white is fresh and modern, but traditional at the same time.”

Bianca’s expertise proved a godsend for the couple. “Marc and I have very different taste when it comes to decorating,” says Melissa. “I would say I’m very traditional, whereas Marc’s style is more ‘transitional’, with contemporary features,” says Melissa. “Bianca married our design preferences beautifully to give us something we both love.”

Indeed, the result has exceeded all expectations. “We’re ecstatic with it,” says Melissa. “There is nothing I would have done differently. We can confidently say this is our forever home.”

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