After Australian artist Silvia Rotundo and husband Frank lived in their Yarraville, Melbourne home for nearly 15 years, the couple decided it was time to give their adorable 1941 clinker brick abode a much-needed expansion. When they first found it, they had both wanted a home in which to enjoy the things they love — music, cooking, and all types of creativity. They sought out old-world character and charm, as well as old bones that they could eventually extend and renovate to their liking. A few years ago, it was clear the time had come to carry out their original intentions. Silvia was then working as an interior decorator and painting as a hobby in a garage that needed major repairs. The couple decided to design a new extension that included a home studio for Silvia. Having this new creative space recently inspired her to make art a full-time career, taking the plunge to pursue a lifelong passion. “I am so happy I did,” she reflects. The modular extension is clad in black shiplap timber that can’t be seen from the front of the property. “It’s a little surprise for when people enter the home,” Silvia adds. “We like that it’s not obvious.”
Along with delighting their guests through design, homemade baked goods, or a hot cup of tea, Silvia and Frank adore their seven-year-old toy poodle Sofia — often taking leisurely walks with her along a nearby beach. “I’ve heard that a house is not a home without a dog, and now I truly believe this is true.” Rather than moving to accommodate their needs, the family wanted to stay put in their location close to the city and near the water. “It’s a very creative neighborhood with lots of musicians and artists,” Silvia reflects. “The local village is filled with wonderful shops, cafes, and its own little old-world cinema.” Since living there, Silvia has felt like she’s found her community. As for Frank, he grew up in Yarraville and just knew Silvia belonged there. “He is a quiet man with a beautiful heart… his knowledge of the music world is so vast. He’s an inspiration in so many ways,” Silvia gushes about her husband.
In regards to decorating, the couple wanted a functional space filled with memories, treasures, and art. They designed the home so that everything has its place. They were thorough in creating clear zones for work, relaxation, dining, and cooking, and were sure to create a warm environment where friends would feel instantly relaxed. They find their own peace in surrounding themselves with keepsakes from childhoods, and collecting furniture pieces and artwork that tell a story. Silvia designed a butler’s pantry with open shelving to house crockery and glassware that was passed down to her and Frank from their mothers. “We build on these memories with things we find along the way, and with gifts our friends give us,” she shares. “Everything is considered and nothing is mass-produced.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Silvia and Frank often source items from flea markets and artisans to support makers and develop a home that facilitates meaningful conversation. Though she claims to lead a simple life, Silvia’s riches seem to be as bountiful as her spirit. —Annie
Photography by Silvia Rotundo