Toorak House by Davidov Architects

  • Shown in the Toorak House, architect Robert Davidov is blessed to be talented, but as equally fortunate to have parents who implicitly trust his judgement.

    So, after working with his father Sam, a builder, on a number of family homes, they were more than confident for their son to design a large house for a couple of empty nesters. “There’s a close symbiotic relationship. We rarely disagree, but there were certain things that we had to have,” says his mother, Leora, who firmly believes you employ an architect for his or her skills and experience. “Otherwise, use a draftsperson,” she adds.

    Gaggenau 400 Series appliances in the timber kitchen.

    The couple spotted a fairly unremarkable single-storey project home in Toorak that had been poorly extended. So, the decision was made from the outset to build a substantial brand new two-storey house (approximately 40 squares with basement car parking) on the 530-square-metre site on a relatively busy thoroughfare.

    “Dad wasn’t against in situ concrete. But it wasn’t the type of construction that he was used to, so we went for masonry and cement rendered the exterior walls to create a sense of monumentality,” Robert says, who used a rough-finished Venetian plaster with a wax coating for the interior walls.

    Pivotal to Robert’s brief was a large separate kitchen/butler’s pantry, including the stove, oven and generous preparation areas, adjacent to the main kitchen and meals area. “I like time to myself, particularly when I’m cooking. I’m happy to have family and friends stand around the island bench, say for a drink, but when I’m cooking, it’s my time and I am pleased to be left alone,” Robert says.

    The Toorak house is large, with slithers of garden, including a generous front courtyard, encircling the home. But the living areas have been thoughtfully conceived so that the formal sitting area/study and dining area at the front of the house can be simply screened off by chunky oak doors when not being used. “We tend to use the entire place, with the exception of the bedrooms, except for when grandchildren stay over,” Leora says.

    Although the house is on a busy road, there were initially two key drivers in the design. One was an apartment building diametrically opposite, by architectural practice Leslie Perrot from the late 1960s, with its relatively blank concrete block façade. The other was the impressive plane trees in the street, orientated to the north, and now beautifully framed through large picture windows on the first floor, including the spacious main bedroom.

    “You feel as though you’re looking down a valley,” Robert says, who was also as mindful of creating a series of vignettes throughout the house. While there are strong sight lines between the living areas at either end, there’s a similar strength in the dramatic voids, one above the entrance, the other above the granite-tiled staircase.

    Sam and Leora have lived in several houses over the years, and with each move, there’s furniture and objects inherited from parents. Furniture, such as a credenza, has been accommodated in an alcove, while a marble urn now fits into a bespoke niche next to the butler’s pantry. “This house has certainly taken us on a journey, but it’s been extremely rewarding, and we wouldn’t change a thing! He’s an architect after all and talented!” adds Leora.

    Artwork by Jennifer Goodman from Gallerysmith

    The Missoni Home towel injects colour into the light-filled bathroom.

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