K.P.D.O. overhauls ’80s Melbourne addition to accommodate art collection

Jun 22, 2021
  • Article by Elisa Scarton

Warm white walls and pale timber floors serve as the background to a vast collection of art in this Melbourne renovation by K.P.D.O.

The studio, which is led by 2016 IDEA Gold Medallist Kerry Phelan and Stephen Javens, were approached by a client looking transform an “uninspiring 1980s addition” to a Victorian villa.

“The project is a family home for an art collector,” K.P.D.O. tells ADR.

“Our brief was to work within the original footprint to create a home for large gatherings and space to display a growing art collection.”

Phelan and her team selected European Oak from Tongue n Groove as the base for the renovation, finishing the walls in natural hard plaster.

“The restrained palette creates a background to the Paul Bangay-designed garden beyond and the client’s art,” explains K.P.D.O.

“The joinery insertions are then the top notes with moments of unexpected colour.”

The family home features an open plan kitchen and dining area with a separate sitting room, lounge and study.

K.P.D.O designed the custom joinery throughout, pairing it in the kitchen with CDK stone marble in a soft grey and a series of Art Deco inspired bar stools in cream from De La Espada.

Across from it, in the living room, a grey Rodolfo Dordoni Minotti sofa sits alongside a matching coffee table and rug from the same Italian-made brand.

Like elsewhere in the home, the client’s art collection features prominently in the space – in this case, a piece by Sydney-based artist Jonny Niesche and sculptures by Kuninjku artist Paul Nabulumo.

“Our design approach, which is a thread running between all our projects, was to seek a balance between restraint and exuberance,” says K.P.D.O.

“A commitment to detail also imbues our projects with a subtlety and surprise.”

Designers applied this approach to much of the furniture selection for Art House, with a range of neutral and more exuberant pieces sitting “in balance” with the overall palette and artwork.

In the studio that exuberance is more visible with a custom K.P.D.O sideboard in a dark blue paired with a vintage floor rug and blue Antella table from Castorina & CO.

Elsewhere, in the bedroom, the timber flooring is overlaid with a Rodolfo Dordoni rug in a dark grey.

More custom K.P.D.O designs can be seen in the bed, matched with a Minotti Christophe Delcourt nightstand and a piece by Pintupi artist Willy Tjungurrayi.

Another striking piece can be seen in the powder room. Penned by Brisbane-born artist Tracey Moffatt, Red Body and Something More #1 is reflected in the gold framed mirror sitting above a black standing basin from Bjhon.

“Our projects rely on two fundamentals – clarity of planning and intricacy of details – to create memorable spaces,” concludes K.P.D.O.

“But sustainability is also addressed through an eye to longevity.

“Joinery is crafted from sustainable veneers and the furniture is sourced from suppliers with high environmental credentials with pieces that will have long lifespans.”

With studios in Melbourne and Surry Hills, K.P.D.O works across the residential, multi-residential and commercial spaces and has completed a number of projects also in Hong Kong.

Photography: Timothy Kaye.

In 2018 inside peeked into the East Melbourne home Phelan shares with her partner Stephan Javens. Preferring to stay a little quieter among the frenetic noise and pace of the design profession, Phelan and Javens’ home is a series of beautifully considered spaces.

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