Elba & Inax — The Prahran Residence by Lucy Bock
The Prahran Residence by Lucy Bock transforms a Melbourne Edwardian house into a light-filled "forever home" for a young couple, creating a calming, timeless interior personalised with unexpected fun and playful elements.
Materials and light were the two key areas of focus in the Prahran Residence design. Lucy worked closely with Artedomus to procure slabs of beautifully veined Elba and Japanese glazed porcelain tiles, lending a strong and refined materiality to the spaces, and introduced new full-height steel windows and doors to flood the interior with light. Combined with splashes of colour and bespoke joinery, the result is a rare and poignant combination of refined and joyful design.
“I’m very much inspired by architecture and how it informs the interior”, says Lucy. “My approach to interior design is to look at the architecture first and then respond in a way that is sensitive and challenging.” The Prahran Residence exemplifies this approach – the design retains the Edwardian period features in each room and introduces steel-frame windows and doors which complement and respond to aesthetic and materials of the era. In contrast to these subtle elements that hark back to the home’s period origins, the pops of colour, luxurious materials and meticulous detailing bring a creative tension and interest into the spaces.
Against a calm backdrop of tonal variations in blue and grey, brighter blues and candy pinks are introduced through tiling and joinery, and are reflected in the furniture and art which were also specified as part of the interior design. “The loose furniture pieces were carefully selected to both complement the finishes of the home and to add a layer of depth and colour”, says Lucy. The dining chairs were upholstered in shades of blue and the sofa in a rich blue-grey velvet upholstery that ever so slightly shimmers in the light.
In the kitchen and bathroom, expanses of natural Artedomus white and grey Elba create an atmosphere of calm and luxury, offset by the colourful details. Lucy reflects that “although the kitchen is small, it has a presence”. The design is highly detailed, yet “fairly minimal and streamlined in its aesthetic”, she says. Integrated appliances, white joinery and recessed finger pulls allow the materials to be the hero of the design. Lucy worked closely with Artedomus to
source the materials, with the Artedomus Elba island bench the focal point of the kitchen, living and dining area. “I have had a long working relationship with Artedomus throughout my career”, says Lucy. “They have a wonderful selection of stone and tiles that I keep on hand for inspiration – I find that they carry interesting and unusual finishes that you won’t see anywhere else.”
Deep blue Artedomus Japanese porcelain glazed tiles add a contrasting detail to the island bench, creating continuity between the kitchen and the blue tones used throughout the interior. In Japanese design blue is associated with calm, a connection which is clearly felt in the tranquil Prahran Residence interior. The tiles are also a link to midcentury design history — they are made by Japanese manufacturer Inax, which was founded with Frank Lloyd Wright after he commissioned thousands of terracotta tiles for the famous Imperial Hotel in 1924. The mosaiced rectangular tiles in the kitchen recall the subtle geometric shapes found in each space, from the black and white check carpet in the bedrooms, to the white-painted original brickwork and timber-paneled ceiling. Overlaid across the tiled section, an Elba “chopping block” adds a unique styling and display opportunity. Lucy says “I loved the Japanese tiles for their deep ocean blue colour which was perfect for the materials palette of the home. The tiles also have a special hand-made quality”.
Artedomus Elba, a stone found only in one quarry in Greece, was in short supply during the design phase of the Prahran Residence. Fortunately, Artedomus were able to source the stone for Lucy and had the clients come to the warehouse to select their stone slabs. As the Elba is used at volume in the kitchen on both the splashback and island bench, and given the level of variation in natural stone, it was important to choose the right slabs to achieve the visual effect the design required. The pieces chosen were selected for their very soft grey veining, adding an almost painterly effect to the kitchen and ensuring it was not overly stark and white.
The bathroom also makes use of Elba’s rare ability to be both a subtle backdrop and feature in its own right, with Elba tiles and a custom Elba vanity contrasted with pops of colour and mosaic tiling. “The soft grey tones of Elba marble created a perfect backdrop for hues of blue and complimenting pops of colour throughout the space.” says Lucy. “The Elba provided strong impact but didn’t overpower the space allowing colorful joinery, materials and lighting to be overlaid.”
With its beautiful use of stone accented by candy-pink and playful details, the bathroom is a microcosm of the Prahran Residence. Across the entire project, every aspect is used to its utmost aesthetic potential. In the kitchen, the rangehood through its sculptural qualities becomes more than a simple appliance. The shaving cabinets in the bathrooms are not merely functional, but also become a quirky cross-shaped graphic. Everything – be it the many varieties of tiling, the herringbone oak flooring, or the lighting – is a beautifully detailed, aesthetic joy.
From a small, dark Edwardian house, typical of the houses built during the period in inner Melbourne, the Prahran Residence emerges as an exquisitely detailed contemporary home. The design draws on the home’s origins to enhance its sense of character, personality and history, and a little like the vibrant historic suburb of Prahran, overlays it with unique contemporary design elements. With its new light-filled spaces, refined use of materials and unexpected details, it is truly the ideal “forever home”.