Melbourne-based interior design studio Beatrix Rowe convert a Malvern bygone into a modern, light-filled villa with long-standing character.

Coming by its name from the client’s love of cooking and collecting, The Bowerbird Home perfectly captures the feeling of being ‘at home’. Formerly referred to by the clients as their “ugly duckling” – a dark, disjointed and seemingly small place to live – the home had to undergo a drastic transformation. Not only is the result inundated with natural light, but it is also cohesive and open. Each space has been reinstated to reflect the family’s personality, fostering a deep and lasting connection.

The home’s instinctive features are intended to create an emotional attachment between person and place. Beatrix Rowe wanted to create somewhere that the family could call home – somewhere comfortable and familiar. As a result, personal pieces such as art and other collectables have been seamlessly layered into the space, standing out against a sea of subtle tones and textures. Each of these pieces has a story to tell, giving the home a life of its own. What’s more, they give life to the name itself, the infamous collector of priceless objects, the Bowerbird.

One of the standout pieces in the home is the client’s prized collection of copper pots. The kitchen features a custom rail the pots can hang from, making them into a decorative display. A chef by trade, the client wanted the kitchen to reflect their love of cooking. Not only that, they wanted it to reflect their love of natural materials; with handmade terracotta tiles, timber joinery and stone countertops. This material palette prevails throughout the entire home, making it feel like it has stood the test of time.

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The Beatrix Rowe team have consciously selected materials that feel familiar and unpretentious, strengthening the bond between person and place.

References to the surrounding garden and plenty of natural light were must-haves in the restored villa. “A new relationship with the outside through picture windows and glazed doors sees the original small, dark and disconnected kitchen and dining area reborn,” founder Beatrix Rowe says. This alignment between interior and exterior spaces, Beatrix says, was achieved through an ongoing relationship with the landscapers and builders on site.

At the core of this home is a desire to unearth a deep, emotional connection to both the old and the new. Where possible, the Beatrix Rowe team have made a concerted effort to retain the home’s original, understated beauty; yet still, there is an unwavering sense that the home has entered a new chapter of its life.

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Personal items such as picture frames lay scattered around the house, initiating what Beatrix calls a “handmade story”.