Melbourne-based interior designer Ali Ross took an ordinary Victorian home and crafted a modern family space filled with light and impeccably European in influence.
Judging by the clean lines and refined hues inside the period house Ali Ross and her family call home, it’s hard to imagine that this space was ever labelled as plain. Yet the Australian interior designer, who is lauded for her immaculate eye, is adamant that a sense of order and calm and ample natural light weren’t exactly redeemable features when she first purchased the Malvern home.
Applying a family-friendly design as her guiding compass, Ali successfully repurposed areas of the original layout into new zones and added a rear extension to build a more liveable space. Mindful to articulate separate workspaces for both herself and her husband, Ali also designated areas for the boys and kept an enclosed formal living room downstairs so everyone has the opportunity for peace and quiet.
Akari Light Sculptures designed by Isamu Noguchi line the original heritage hallway.
Designed by Le Corbusier in 1952 and made in Italy, the white Lampe De Marseille wall light is an iconic example of form and function.
While the boys’ bedrooms, play space and bathroom are on the first floor, below, the master bedroom, ensuite, Ali’s office, both living rooms, laundry, kitchen and dining zone open out onto a generous backyard and pool. Ali says she was also able to incorporate a new studio space above the garage that overlooks this area. “The addition was able to successfully protect our view and provide a wonderful space for my husband to retreat to,” she says.
Structural transformations aside, the introduction of a simple, anchoring palette includes walls in white and warm greys with nordic-toned timber underfoot. Layers of texture play a role in softening each space; from the blush pink rug in the formal living room to the reoccurring accents of navy blue, black and tan leather.
“I love the simplicity and functionality of the kitchen and how it only reveals itself once you’re standing in the living room.”
– Ali Ross
Painting the staircase in Porter’s Floor Paint in Cygnet adds visual interest and creates a design feature.
Precious objects collected while living abroad weave a personal layer of history through the home. Prized possessions include the vintage Fritz Hansen leather Swan Chair. Initially falling head over heels with the chair as an exchange student living in Denmark, Ali says “I fell in love with the Swan’s sensual shape and character and I promised myself that one day I would buy one. It only took over two decades but it feels right at home with us and brings back a flood of memories when I catch a glimpse of its curves.”
Another firm favourite is the Hanging Egg Chair by Danish designer Nanna Ditzel. “I bought it 10 years ago while we were living in San Francisco. We were renting at the time so I had to keep it in storage. It travelled home via a stint in London,so it was a relief to finally hang it when we settled in Melbourne,” Ali says.
Transformed to allow for connection, Ali has paid careful attention to texture, form and function throughout her renovation. Hints of the home’s original heritage and bespoke pieces from her travels add a final layer of meaning and expression to the family that lives here.
This piece originally appeared in est magazine issue 34.