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Building art

Building art

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This stunning renovation transformation by Omnicon Constructions in Melbourne is as much a work of art as the client’s beautifully curated personal collection.

Gabrielle Chariton

Author

Contributor to Housing

With its crisp, refined interior spaces, restrained palette and seamless interplay with the outdoors, this newly renovated home in Caulfield North, Melbourne, was designed for a dual purpose: to accommodate a growing family; and to display and showcase the owners’ carefully curated art collection. 

This intensely collaborative project sprang from the collective imaginations of the clients – an artist and a property developer; interior design professionals, Golden; and the team at Omnicon Constructions, who oversaw the design and construction.

The home’s street frontage was transformed into a modern edifice
This new build in Caulfield North accommodates a growing family 

‘The owner has a lot of paintings and pieces that she creates herself, as well as international pieces that they wanted to display,’ explains Dave Skurnik, Director of Omnicon Constructions. ‘So, the focus was about having a very clean palette, lighting, colours and built-in furniture that could really highlight the art around the house – art being furniture, paintings, photos and sculptures. From the outset, the spaces were designed to provide a beautiful backdrop for the artist and her masterpieces.’ 

Omnicon, which was established around 45 years ago, and has held HIA membership for almost as long, specialises in high-end, architecturally designed residential work. This project – aptly named Art House – involved a complete renovation of a faded mid-century manor, a sprawling, single-level home with beautiful bones.

Due to the size of the original house, Omnicon was able to conduct the remodel within the existing footprint (including the area occupied by an indoor pool, which was filled with concrete and now functions as a living space).

As with most renovations, it was a ‘form of moving parts’, Dave says. ‘Every day we were thrown challenges and we worked with the owner and Golden to deliver what was originally perceived and thought about.’

The layout was substantially redesigned to create natural flow
The spaces provide a backdrop for the client’s masterpieces

Construction began with a complete internal strip-out, which revealed the usual assortment of issues such as rotted-out roof and wall framing. 

‘A lot of the roof had to be replaced and upgraded to today’s standards. We had floor levels that didn't match up and walls that weren’t built straight, so our carpenters spent a lot of time framing and rectifying the original building to accommodate the new design.’

The layout was substantially redesigned to create flow and bring light into the home, with the newly opened-up living spaces spilling out into the garden. A series of lavishly curved walls reference the home’s architectural heritage, bringing softness to the otherwise predominantly linear forms. 

The bar features a detailed joinery cabinet topped by marble
Lavishly curved walls reference the home’s architectural heritage

There’s an element of visual trickery here – while the original walls of the home are masonry, the Omnicon team used lightweight construction for any new areas to keep costs down. Dave says one of the most time-consuming parts of the build was chasing services through these solid old walls, then patching and polishing to create a flawless finish and invisibly blend old and new. 

The layered palette – comprising textures rather than colours – is one of pared-back opulence: polished concrete, raw white brick and richly hued joinery, accented by swathes of marble and brushed gold accessories.

‘From the moment you walk through the front door, which is a very special piece of steelwork and fluted glass, everything around you has a story, a reason and a meaning, like the art that’s created by the owner,’ Dave explains. 

The bathroom's large format tiles create a more open space
Tapware was supplied by Reece, Mary Noall and Rogerseller.

The marble floor in the front entrance is one example – the slabs were broken up at the wholesaler’s yard, then brought back and arranged, piece by piece, before being concreted in and polished. This stunning, bespoke ‘mosaic’ draws the eye from the entryway into the living spaces. 

Another standout feature is the bar, which features a detailed joinery cabinet topped by marble, set behind circular cut-outs in the plasterwork. LED backlights and razor-fine steel shelving are seamlessly integrated into the marble.

A thing of such beauty doesn’t happen by accident: ‘A lot of the finishing details were carefully considered at frame stage, to make sure that we had blockings and support and finished details built into the frame where they’d be needed. It took a lot of very careful pre-planning,’ Dave says. 

The layered palette comprises textures rather than colours
‘There's a nice warm feeling about the house,' says Dave Skurnik

Outside, the imposing, blocky facade was left unchanged from a structural perspective, but refreshed with a coat of concrete-look render. This, together with the new black-framed glazing and the geometric steelwork of the door, transformed the home’s somewhat dated street frontage into an incredibly contemporary, almost Brutalist edifice.

The four-bedroom home was completed in March this year, after nine months of onsite works – quite a feat considering the team was operating for much of that time during COVID lockdowns, during which only five people were allowed onsite at a time.

‘Trying to navigate high-end and quality finishes when you're managing five people onsite was difficult, and the building program itself was difficult,’ Dave says.

The layered palette is one of pared-back opulence
'Everything around you has a story, a reason and a meaning'

However, it was also an incredibly positive build. The Omnicon team has worked with the clients on several previous projects, so the collaboration between them and Golden was borne of both familiarity and professional respect. 

‘They were an exceptional client to work with. They were heavily involved on a daily basis to keep the project moving and pushing us to deliver their vision.’ And, Dave says, they love the finished result. 

‘There's a nice warm feeling about the house, so they love living there. We like to tell our clients that we build the houses, they make them homes. As the owners furnish and bring colours into them, it changes the space entirely from what we built into something that’s a work of art.’

Construction

Omnicon Constructions

Interior design

Golden

Location

Caulfield North, Melbourne

Materials:

  • Stonework: Breccia marble from G-Lux
  • Exterior and interior feature wall finish: Quikcote polished concrete render
  • Floors: G-Lux Elba marble and X-Bond by Alt. Surfaces
  • Windows: Night Sky aluminium frames
  • Joinery: Polytec – Oyster grey; 2pac Dulux in natural white
  • Tapware: supplied by Reece, Mary Noall and Rogerseller.

Published on 1 December 2022

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