An Art-Filled Australian Home in a Former Hotel

updated Apr 30, 2019

An Art-Filled Australian Home in a Former Hotel

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Vicki and Ross
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Years lived in: 8 years, owned

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Vicki and Ross moved into their home in the inner-city suburb of Carlton eight years ago. Their building was originally part of an adjoining hotel — and it housed a hand ball court sitting in the back. (The first Inter-colonial Hand Ball Competition was played there against New South Wales, in fact!) You can still see some of the original paint markings on the walls in their gorgeous courtyard.

Their home has been through a number of incarnations through the years — in 1970 a prominent architect John Mockridge converted it into his own residence complete with cork ceiling and courtyard. When he retired, a third story was added as a studio for painting. The building was unchanged from his design until Ross and Vicki’s minor alterations in 2013.

They were keen to retain the integrity of his design but to incorporate a current fit in the kitchen and bathrooms. And their impressive wine collection also had to find a new home when they came here, so the outdoor toilet area was roofed and paved, insulated and fitted out with bins for the bottles. Their renovations were completed three years ago.

The house sits on a square and the surroundings are very tranquil and neighborly, despite its close proximity to the city and to a large number of eateries and theaters. “It is a really easy house to live in, nothing too delicate or precious. Feels great to come home to,” says Vicki

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Favorite Element: Our favourite elements are the ’70s feel of the open space and the private courtyard.

Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge was how to use the huge beam already in place in the courtyard and how to include a toilet downstairs and have access to the garage from inside the house.

What Friends Say: Our friends like the feeling of width and generosity of space so hard to come by close to the city, where Victorian houses are the norm.

Proudest DIY: The soaring walls are a great opportunity for the incumbent picture framer to fill them with artworks. The collection grows from a number of sources: S & J Framing workshop in Prahran, Joels Auction House in South Yarra, Bridget Mcdonnell Gallery on Rathdowne street in Carlton and through private sources. Amongst the favourites are the Celia Percival, Charles Blackman and the John Olsen. The hanging system installed allows for rearrangement when new works come into the mix.

Biggest Indulgence: The biggest indulgence was choosing Castlemaine stone in crazy paving for the courtyard. We don’t regret a cent. The walls marry so happily. Also covering the floors with rugs from The Rug Gallery on Johnston St Collingwood.

Best Advice: The best advice we received was to do the entire job, not to do the third story at a later time. Our advice is, if possible, have a builder and architect that have faith in each other. A good builder will have condensed his sub contractors into the ones who do the job well.


  • Rosemount Constructions P/L Michael Hocking (builder) Darrington Cabinets, Ringwood
  • Perini Tiles Richmond Lighting — Da Voluce Glenhuntly rd. Elsternwick and About Space Gertrude st Fitzroy The courtyard paving and planting — Tim Jackett Taps, sinks etc., — Mary Noall Middle Park Marble bench tops — CDK Stone Moorabbin Handles Handles Plus — Richmond Enzie — Spiral staircase repairs of original from 1970
  • Windows/Doors Nu-Line — Keysborough
  • Dining table, spinning library and credenza behind the sofa all made by Brown Dog Furniture, North Melbourne. (Table made from reclaimed timbers from Queensland Telegraph pole timbers.Their speciality is to make from reclaimed timber.)
  • Metal floor lamp with 4 globes — Geoffrey Hatty Applied Arts, Abbotsford
  • S & J Framing workshop in Prahran, Joels Auction House in South Yarra, Bridget Mcdonnell Gallery on Rathdowne street in Carlton and through private sources. (Amongst the favourites are the, Celia Percival, Charles Blackman and the John Olsen.)

Thanks, Vicki and Ross!

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