Drive past this pristine villa and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was simply a large traditional residence – redolent with charm but perhaps a little dark and gloomy on the interior. However, with developer Andy Blyth’s driving passion for villas and architect Paul Leuschke’s design dexterity, the home offers far more than a classic air.
Essentially, with this comprehensive renovation the developer set out to create a modern-functioning family home with all the character of a grand historic villa.
“Very few new villas are being built, while renovated versions usually have a contemporary extension added at the back,” says Blyth. “I prefer to build afresh or make any changes and additions to an original villa appear seamless, so the home achieves a continuous, flowing aesthetic.”
In reality, the word renovation doesn’t do justice to this project. The word rebirth might be more appropriate. The original, dilapidated home was all but levelled – retaining only one wall, the front bay and part of the veranda – while ancillary buildings on the property were trucked away.
Paul Leuschke says it was important to keep aspects of the original villa, rather than start afresh, as council regulations would not have allowed for the existing height to boundary ratio on a new build.
The large site had been under-utilised and Blyth saw the triangular section as an opportunity to create an impressive street facade. The outcome is a dramatic frontage with the existing bay restored and the new sections finished in exact period detail – right up to the finials, or spires, an historical architectural detail aimed at keeping witches from landing on the roof.
The only contemporary elements seen from the street are the translucent, glowing door panels on the double garage that’s tucked in under the reworked home. This replaces the existing single garage situated under the bay just to the right – and that is now home to a guest suite.
Stepping into the hallway, a wealth of period interior detailing meets the eye – more, in fact, than you would be likely to find in an original, untouched villa. Everything from the plaster mouldings to the crown ceiling roses is as it would have been a century plus ago. And the ornate plasterwork is matched with solid oak wood floors in all three of the home’s living spaces, including a herringbone parquet pattern featured in the hall. The house exudes an artisanal feel throughout.
However, despite the classic finishes and detailing, the home’s physical layout reflects contemporary living at its best. Classic villas may have been beautiful but they were often dark and lacked flow – two failings banished from this design.
“Passing under an archway just inside the front door, guests turn left from the hall into the flowing open-plan lounge, dining and kitchen space,” says Leuschke. “A double-sided fire with ornate marble surround offers a degree of separation between the dining zone and living area.”
Not only is this run of spaces ideal for a modern family, the kitchen, with its large walk-in scullery, offers up-to-the-minute cooking convenience. This level of design efficiency, dovetailed with refined period charm, runs throughout the interior.
There are five bedrooms, including the master suite – which occupies the new top level – and the guest suite, set beside the garage and media room on the basement level. The master suite includes his-and-hers wardrobes, together with custom shoe shelving with LED lights, and even a separate storage room for suitcases. Two other bedrooms also have ensuites and walk-in wardrobes, while all have custom cabinetry.
There’s another character trait that sets this home apart from classic villas, too. Traditional, tall sash windows typically found in these 100-plus-year-old homes bring in splashes of sunlight and these original-style windows were reinstated here, too. However, in addition, the side and rear of the home open up to the landscaped grounds via bifold doors – creating relaxed links to the outdoor dining area and the garden.
As well as function and elegant looks, there’s family fun. The home includes a children’s bowling alley and playhouse in the rear yard and a new heated pool with water feature extends out one side of the villa, making the most of the triangular site.