While we at est are lucky to be able to share inspiring spaces from designers to a design-discerning audience, it’s always extra exciting when those two paths cross. When frequent est reader and Hecker Guthrie General Manager Michelle Sait-Bennett got in touch with us to share her recently sold St Kilda apartment, it was a no-brainer to share with our audience.
Originally built in 1935 by renowned architects Beedham & Wright, ‘Avila’ is an iconic art deco apartment building looking out on the bay from St Kilda West. Michelle’s love for the overall architectural aesthetic of the home and its generous classic proportions first drew her to the apartment, but we love the way she has stripped back and revealed features of the home and injected some relaxed modern sensibility through a thoughtfully-curated selection of European design pieces.
WORDS Melia Rayner | PHOTOGRAPHY Earl Carter
Art Deco touches abound in the home, from the ornate plaster and brickwork, deep windows and subtle stained glass palette. Preserving the integrity of this aesthetic and in some cases, revealing the home’s original 1930s features guided the renovation process, which included removing the cladding from the fireplace, removing the floor coverings and window treatments, replacing cabinetry and modifying some of the kitchen settings. The result is a home that feels true to its Art Deco history without being bound to it, open to classic and modern decorating choices alike.
Balancing an appreciation for an architectural style such as art deco and introducing contemporary elements of furniture and artwork is something Michelle believes her work with Hecker Guthrie has influenced.
“Hecker Guthrie has taught me to work with what you have and listen to what the original architecture is telling you. For this reason I chose to keep the same layout in the bathroom, reinstate fittings that reflect deco and maintain the dado line from the original bathroom. Having a 1935 terrazzo floor that simply needed polishing was a big advantage.”
While it’s easy to get caught up in the internal beauty of this home, the location offers up some gems of its own. While Acland Street may be known for its backpacker culture, Fitzroy Street and the western side of St Kilda are home to some of Melbourne’s most beloved dining spots. Di Stasio has long been a favourite for its elegant fitout, food and service, while Frankie’s Top Shop is a newer addition that has already carved out a loyal audience. And in the morning, where better than to cap off a stroll along the beach or Albert Park Lake than a coffee and croissant at Baker D Chirico, one of Melbourne’s most respected local bakeries.
Neutral hues and natural materials provide an elegant backdrop for the living spaces, providing a modern foil to the more deco-centric spaces like the kitchen and bathroom. While typical of an art deco building, the polished timber floors and high ornate ceilings translate perfectly to modern living, complemented by Michelle’s refined collection of design pieces and artwork by Tim Storrier.
Add depth and contemporary style to an art deco space with refined everyday pieces.