If you were designing a home for someone who's nuts for scuba diving, what might it look like? It could have an underwater vibe, but this is not some deranged episode of Changing Rooms where they've used sand-textured paint on the walls and hot-glued shells to every conceivable surface, because this is not the '90s and we don't secretly hate our friends. Or do we? And whatever happened to Suzie Wilks? Can she still rock overalls?
No. Don't know. And probably.
At College Place, Nest Architects had exactly this scenario. And while they've definitely incorporated references to the subaquatic, there's no need for a dummy scuba diver to be suspended from the ceiling as some kind of makeshift chandelier.
The architect took cues from the original home, an old Spanish Mission-style cottage in the back streets of Albert Park when designing this renovation. From the front, an ocean blue door is a subtle hint that something's going on inside.
Upon entry, an exhalation of bubbly coat hooks are ready to take your coat. To your right is the kitchen, breaking tradition by taking the prime, street-front position. The idea behind this was to give the owners can watch the street activity as they cook. It also creates access to a small front garden where herbs are at the ready.
Separating the kitchen and living area is a large laundry/wet room accessible from the side - the perfect place to clean your wetsuit and gear after a dive in the bay.
At the rear, the living area opens onto the backyard. Effort has been made to let as much light as possible into the narrow footprint, with skylights and large windows making the space feel lighter and larger than the reality. The skylights create shafts of light akin to those seen when diving.
The new rear wall is painted brick with a bouquet of coloured bubble-like porthole windows which open into the upstairs bedroom. The portholes let in light, but also help to prevent overlooking the neighbour's yard.
The bathroom is where the underwater world is truly evoked, where glistening aquamarine mosaic tiles line every wall. If you blur your eyes you could almost be diving in crystal waters instead of brushing your teeth before work. Almost. But, unfortunately, the 9-5 awaits and as you head off to work planning your next dive, at least you have a comfortable and inspiring home to return to at the end of the day.
It makes my heart flutter a little when I see a house that reflects its owner's personality and passions. A house where the wall doubles as a cat-scratch post? Great. A house for rock-climbing enthusiasts with a bouldering wall in the lounge? Perfect. A wall of books and your very own librarian's ladder to access the upper reaches? Now we're talking. Whatever your secret passion is, try to infuse a bit of that in your new home or renovation, to make your home more you. It doesn't need to be twee and tacky like Changing Rooms might do (sorry, Suzie), but it's those little touches that make your home unique and that's a better way to stand out from the Jones' than using a different colour stacked stone on the portico.