A Mid-Century Home Brought Back to Life by a Creative Couple
Images by Sean Fennessy
This week we visit the beautifully renovated family home of fashion designer Alexandra Apostolidis, her partner Pierre and their charming son Atlas. The creative couple used their complementary skill sets to masterfully restore a mid-century home in Warrandyte, Victoria. We spoke to Alexandra about breathing life back into the property, her career path and experience with motherhood so far. This story was fittingly shot by talented photographer Sean Fennessy who has also recently become a Warrandyte local and been on a renovation journey of his own.
“We moved from Carlton into our Warrandyte home in December 2020. Both Pierre and I have always lived in Melbourne, I’m a designer & creator with a fashion background and Pierre is a builder and owner of Lifetime Building and Design, a company specialising in residential and architectural renovations and extensions. Atlas is our big little cuddly two-year-old, who loves birds, dinosaurs and whale sharks. He keeps us very busy and we love it that way.”
“The space we have is connected to nature, light and airy – we feel so relaxed and free here. We are really lucky that we are able to feel disconnected from the grind but then to also not feel isolated. The space is minimal but still feels homely. We both really love natural materials and it was important to us to use these throughout the space to make it feel alive and with spirit. Our kitchen is a beautiful marriage of American Oak cabinets and peach veined marble which is a very warm and calming combination. I was so happy when I found this marble I still can’t believe such a natural phenomenon exists and I also love that I get to spend a lot of time in this space.”
The space we have is connected to nature, light and airy – we feel so relaxed and free here.
“Most of all, we love the fact that we can feel like we are outside when we are inside, we are able to fully open up the two bifold doors onto our deck which runs level with the house. You get fantastic air flow through the home and the natural light you gain access to is heaven. In the main bathroom it sometimes feels like you are in a resort, the skylight we put in looks into the tree canopy so as you’re lying in the bath you can stare up into the gums and experience the beauty of our natural surroundings.”
“ Pierre and my relationship was born from our common interest in the importance of ambience, design and comfort in all aspects of life and especially in our habitat. Being a carpenter Pierre had dreamt of building his own home, and as a designer I am constantly reading about and walking through spaces and places that are inspirational. Our skillset really complimented each other, I could show Pierre a structure and he would give me the technical solution for building it.”
Pierre wears an IN BED organic cotton t.shirt in white and 100% linen short in khaki. Alexandra & Pierre’s bed is dressed in an IN BED 100% linen fitted sheet in khaki, flat sheet in stone and a duvet cover in peach with pillowslips in peach & stone. Shop their set in queen and king.
“So yes our space has been a long time coming and we had a lot in our design bank ready for use, which for anyone ever planning on buying their own home, start doing your research now as it might come around a lot faster than you would have thought. It leaves a lot more head space for important decision making which is one thing a renovation is not shy of. This really allowed us to get straight into the renovation and put all of our design points into the template of this specific home.
The house as we found it definitely was not liveable… the kitchen was a soggy chip board mess, the ceiling had water damage and was falling in at a few points…pokey random cupboards and robes but the main thing was that the general footprint of the home was perfect. A Mid Century, L shaped home with generous picture frame windows, timber lining boards and exposed beams. A decent back yard and untouched floorboards hiding under carpet.”
“The lighting design for the house was something I spent a lot of time getting right. I am not a fan of downlights as I find them too intense and they cause so much shadow on the face and also the task you're working on. Wall lights, led strip lighting and pendant lighting have worked so well in the space. In terms of milestones the first major one was gutting the place. We ripped everything back to frame and gave ourselves a blank canvas to work with. I especially loved watching Pierre tear down the existing wall that separated the living and dining area. He did this on settlement day and I am pretty sure he was still holding the keys in his hand – we couldn’t wait to see our open plan free flow space!”
“We have many small and special found objects that we have collected over the years and some precious heirlooms on display. My dad is a photographer so we have some of his beautiful work around the space too. One of the most special objects in the house has to be our Douglas and Bec Turn Pendant it is the most wonderful dining feature light! It omits the most beautiful glow and couldn’t be made to fit better in any other space. The original Western Cedar picture frame windows themselves through each one you see green, it’s as though it is a natural landscape illustration that is always changing.”
We have many small and special found objects that we have collected over the years and some precious heirlooms on display.
Renovating their home isn’t the only journey that Alexandra & Pierre have embarked on recently with the couple welcoming their first child Atlas into the family. Alexandra speaks fondly about these early days and credits the support of her tight-knit family who have been there as she leans into motherhood.
“The magical mystery tour that is motherhood is one that I am so honoured to be a part of. It is such a personal and unique experience, everything to you is so new, real and sacred. I am so lucky to have my sisters, sister in law and my awe inspiring mother and mother-in-law who have held me along the way. Also the community of mothers that I have come to know and also friends I have become closer with through the mutual navigation of parenting has been so special. A child's naivety and their thirst for knowledge is so inspiring, I always try and imagine what it would be like to see the simplest of things for the first time. Reading through nature books, building mini structures, imaginative play have brought things to life for me as much as they have for at Atlas! I think he has taught me more than I have taught him to be honest!”
“Atlas was at the forefront of our decision making for the entire home buying and renovating process. Starting off with buying in somewhere like Warrandyte where there is so much opportunity for outdoor education, child friendly community and clubs we can see him being a part of in the future.”
“I began working in the Fashion industry starting out in production and then moved on to work as the head designer of a young womenswear brand. From this I decided I wanted to experience a more freelance way of life in the industry working for different designers and some styling and assisting in photography here and overseas, while working on my own personal design projects. With Atlas arriving I took a hiatus from this kind of work to be a mum and treasure these precious early years. I have now returned to my freelance work and as we speak Pierre is converting our garage into my very own studio so it won’t be long until I can get back into where I left off and make what I had in the pipeline come to life. I feel really lucky to have had this time with Atlas and I can’t wait to see what this break has done for my creativity!”
“We feel lucky to live on the sacred lands of the Wurndjeri people here in Warrandyte. People come here to be closer to nature and there is so much beauty here, especially in the towering gums and scenic bushland. The wildlife that lives here is so amazing, not long ago we saw an echidna on our morning walk, Atlas loves going down to feed the ducks at the river and our back yard is always welcome to our resident kookaburra trio.”
“The garden is where we spend a lot of time, it is an ever changing and evolving project. We really enjoy visiting the nurseries around us as a family. It is so many things to us, the pride in self education, bonding through our plant art direction, and watching Atlas learn all the names of vegetables and plants that we have growing. We also love to entertain at our home, it’s fantastic when we can open up the bifold doors and get everyone around for a celebration of some sort, food, drink and everything in abundance.”
“For the rest of the year, I’m looking forward to having my own personal space to work from at home which will be such a treat, I can’t wait to start creating again! Pierre has so many beautiful projects he is building so I am really looking forward to seeing those come to life too. What I most look forward to though is watching Atlas grow and enjoying these extremely precious early days of our life as a family and discovering new rituals in our home environment.”
The garden is where we spend a lot of time, it is an ever changing and evolving project.