Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Little Black Number: Open House Melbourne

Around 10 buildings were accessible only through a balloted ticket this year for Open House Melbourne, and I was lucky enough to be drawn out to see the Little Black Number. My allotted time was Sunday morning, and I arrived just before 10am, to a completely nondescript exterior along Leveson Street.

This home is the dream of interior designer Amanda Lynn, and was once an unofficial Libyan embassy, complete with a massive signed poster of Gaddafi hanging on the wall – imagine if that artifact was still floating about!

The block was an old mechanic’s warehouse and then a Union headquarters, her and her husband had their piece of it gutted, and then worked with their architect to produce an amazing living space of less than 5 meters wide, and 16 meters deep. The use of Ms Lynn’s preferred colour, black, was her main requirement, and as she invited the balloted guests in to sit in her living room and listen as she described the features and design thoughts, she explained how black manages to blur the edges of this space, giving the impression that it is bigger than it actually is.

Use of reflection, through mirrors, shiny kitchen panels and windows and the sky lighting from the unique centrepiece of the building, create the impression of ongoing space. Her use of art to “pop” along the walls is very effective, and the commissioned mural in the centre by a local artist, pulls in the couple’s African background in a subtle and useful way, draws your attention upward and creates the illusion of more space than there is.

From the living room, we were invited to peek into Ms Lynn’s office, which doubles as a library and the home of her book collection. The secluded downstairs bathroom is cleverly done with windows at the top of walls, and an unobvious door. Upstairs showed the hidden laundry features, as well as showcasing the use of space, and light from the window out to the courtyard. There is even a second bathroom up here, with a well thought out door handle texture and shape for those cold Melbourne mornings.

The idea of functionality of space rather than being locked into defining a room by it’s function – such as the need for a second bedroom or guest room – was another design feature shared and explained. Considering the frequency of use, the second office for Amanda’s husband doubles as a spare room when needed – and then bed is folded away completely out of sight and thought when not used, allowing for a beautiful black-featured man-den. Using walls for a purpose, such as the bookcase all the way around the window in the office-come-library, and all along the staircase, plus the seating built in within the bookcase in the library and in the living area, in addition to the clever use of storage options throughout the home, fits so much into these small dimensions.

Ms Lynn also shared the sense of community stemming from the house, with the use of the laneway, and the description of the neighbourhood feel. The use of light with the transparent roller door at the back, bringing the laneway behind into the visual field from inside the house, also makes the space seem so much bigger than it is.

Being taken in, and shown around in such a casual and intimate way, and having the design thoughts and trick shared within the tour, was such a special visit. I was wowed by the space and the function of Ms Lynn’s black interior, which she explained she had always wanted to try as a designer but could never foist onto a client. Such a gorgeous home, with an ingenious multipurpose use of the space , and a warm lived feel, this ballot ticket was such a treat!

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