When Doherty Design Studio director Mardi Doherty was tasked with the update of a 1980s home with a monolithic facade in Malvern, the timing was serendipitous. Having just returned from a trip to Palm Springs for Modernism Week, the award-winning designer was brimming with inspiration on how to revitalise the house’s tired interiors with glamour and colour, while respecting its architectural origins.

Alongside building designers Ari Alexander Design Group, Mardi saw the potential to celebrate the home’s somewhat unorthodox features (a central, double-height, triangular glass atrium with a bridge among them…), while reconfiguring the floorplan to suit its modern family occupants. The team also worked with Ben Scott Garden Design to bring some subtle 80s influences into the garden.

Mardi describes the initial stages of this project as a ‘big jigsaw puzzle’, requiring her and Associate Niv Kelkar to completely reconfigure the interior of the building. The new floorplan positions the kitchen, dining, and living spaces at the back of the existing house, allowing natural light in throughout the day. Upstairs, two formerly west-facing balconies have been filled, creating an additional bedroom and bathroom space to suit the family’s three daughters.

The introduction of powder coated aluminium battens on the rear exterior ensures privacy, without compromising on views to the park located opposite. The use of these curved forms continues into the interiors, where arched bathroom fixtures and rounded display cabinetry form a refreshing contrast to the geometric shape of the central atrium.

Every room in this house has been touched during the renovations, however, its 1980s skeleton remains largely the same. While houses from this era tend to be quite polarising, Mardi recognises their often overlooked qualities worth celebrating. ‘The 1980s represents a radical departure from conservative design. There was a freedom to the way in which people expressed themselves – this was certainly true for design, architecture and fashion,’ she says ‘Great architects of the 1980s like Peter McIntyre (who designed this home), Cocks Carmichael, and Daryl Jackson had a wonderful understanding of orientation and site context, and creating interesting volumes.’

Often the kitchen or living room are the clear highlights of a project, but choosing a favourite room in this house is a near impossible task! The expansive front entrance alone is a design feat in itself, where custom terrazzo flooring with brass inlay and geometric details meet pieces of the family’s impressive art collection, curated by Georgie Bruce from GB Art Consulting. Another standout space is the adjacent sitting room, with vivid peacock green walls and cabinetry, offset by a striking peach sliding door. Finally, a cocktail bar between the kitchen and living room has been cleverly customised to disguise a structural column that was too costly to relocate.

All of these rooms feature a bold use of colour and materiality – a far cry from the monochromatic interior scheme once in place. ‘We just knew walking into this house that it would respond so well to vivid colour!’ says Mardi. ‘We had designed the interiors of this client’s previous home six years ago, and they noticed the areas where we pushed them out of their comfort zone regarding the use of colour were the ones they ended up loving the most. So there was a level of trust when it came to this home’s design, and the use of bold colour.’ It’s a sophisticated home, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. As Mardi puts it, ‘We’ve brought the ‘disco’ back to the house.’

This stunning home has been shortlisted in the 2020 Dulux Colour Awards! Check out the rest of the finalists here





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