In an area of town often feted for bayside cachet and its attendant attractions, Elsternwick can get overlooked. Big mistake.
This neat suburb, with its superb period buildings both residential and commercial, lives on the border with bay heavyweights Brighton, Elwood and St Kilda but the heft of the Nepean Highway, which separates it from the water, gives it a different feel altogether.
Along the leafy streetscapes here are some fabulous art deco houses that would easily stand among Melbourne’s best.
A particularly good example of the style is here at Seymour Road. All the rich timber, elegant leadlight and decorative ceilings are on display, but it’s the extension and renovation – a sympathetic revision of deco brilliance – that makes this place shine.
The exterior is lovely, feature brickwork marking out classic patterns on the taupe render facade.
The main entrance sits centrally, but a stair takes you up from the side, almost as if to make you have more of a look before you plunge inside. Despite their urbane period look, art deco houses can be unexpectedly playful. Lovely.
Once inside, those usual suspects we so adore fly their stylish flag effortlessly. First, there are the grand dimensions of the entrance hall – wide and deep and trimmed with luminous timber.
The first left off the hall is the main bedroom, and its clean elegance doesn’t disappoint. In here, diamond leadlight windows in deep timber frames look over the front garden, and a fine decorative ceiling adds the requisite grand touch.
A generous dressing suite sits just beyond and, while you might search for the en suite here, you won’t find it. The downstairs bathroom is more than close enough and worth the short trip around the corner to avail yourself of its original delights – terrazzo floors, shower and WC ”rooms”.
Back across the hall at the front of the house is the excellent sitting room with a feature-brick fireplace flanked by timber display cabinets and a particularly beautiful ceiling – the deeply recessed, decorative circle is a stunner.
Another set of leadlight-and-timber doors takes you into the fine formal dining room with another handsome fireplace and a terrific window seat.
Two openings on either side of the fireplace take you into the thoroughly modern back section, but the delineation between period and progressive is subtle and finely wrought. The back presents, essentially, as a large glass rectangle, accommodating kitchen, dining and family spaces with airy aplomb.
The timber cabinetry of the galley-style kitchen at the western end looks for all the world a contemporary take on a period fitout. The look is further polished by the CaesarStone benches, ample storage and sleek modern appliances. The hanging cupboards and range mean you get good delineation and a look from kitchen to dining and out to the back garden.
A large sliding door set centrally in the space takes you out to the deck that ever so slightly, and appealingly, hangs over the sparkling pool.
Surrounding the water is paving that leads to an entertainment area and wide sideway. The mature, verdant garden provides excellent privacy.
Back inside and upstairs there is a superb small retreat off the landing, and a screened balcony running across the south face can be accessed by the two pretty bedrooms up here. A bright bathroom, with gorgeous timber dado panels and circular windows, completes this study in period class married to contemporary shine.
Elsternwick is nine kilometres south-east of the city centre
Famous for: Rippon Lea Estate; being the home of the ABC; beautiful period houses and shops.
Serviced by: Elsternwick station on the Sandringham line; tram route 67; shopping on Glen Huntly
Road; Elsternwick Park.
Close to: St Kilda, Brighton and the bay.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.