Kooyongkoot Road, Hawthorn Kooyongkoot Road, Hawthorn Kooyongkoot Road, Hawthorn Kooyongkoot Road, Hawthorn Kooyongkoot Road, Hawthorn Kooyongkoot Road, Hawthorn

Kooyongkoot Road, Hawthorn

From a cursory glance this home appears to be a regular 1920s Tudor-style manor. However, on closer inspection, unusual architectural details hint that this house may not be as straightforward as it appears! Instead of Tudor half timbering, exaggerated sculptural beams sit within the main gable, and new lead lighting graces the upstairs dormer windows. Retaining walls lining the driveway are the original stone, yet the drive itself is a mix of bluestone pavers set on the diagonal, surrounded by red bricks. An intriguing black metal screen can be glimpsed at the side of the house, towards the rear of the front yard.

Strictly speaking, the house style is "Stockbroker Tudor", so called because the new wealthy of 1920s America wanted to recreate the grand English homes of the Tudor period. The renovation, undertaken in 2008 by architects Kennedy Nolan, not only captures the spirit of this style, but twists it by applying a modern and whimsical approach to many of the Tudor period's design features. We are left with a fabulous mix - an almost medieval feel, tempered by 21st Century sensibility.

Original round brick steps lead up to the porch and front doors. The entry hall is a visual treat. Paintings hang on charcoal-coloured stucco walls, the floors are dark wood and a panel of mirrors opens to reveal a secret space beyond. Wooden banisters on the return staircase are painted a brilliant white and carpet on the steps is bright green - an unexpected flash of colour in contrast to the dark porch. The house is filled with various art works - many collected from friends. Note in particular the large wooden sculpture in the rear pavilion, by artist-to-watch, Lewis Allen.

A large, bright sitting room leads off to the left. Painted a softer charcoal, it is filled with Asian sculptures and collectibles. The fireplace surrounds are original, but the front panel has been replaced with a dark marble chosen for its peculiar white streak. Its twin is in the adjoining dining room, which features an ornate Victorian table with massive, elaborately carved legs. Surrounded by heavy, wooden Portuguese chairs and overhung by a David Chipperfield - designed "Chandelier", the effect is very Henry VIII.

There are many references to the Tudor period throughout the house. Lead lighting is used extensively - not only in the windows at the front of the house, but in a large wall beyond the kitchen, effectively framing the garden beyond. Herringbone paving in the rear pavilion and courtyard is a feature also reminiscent of the era. Iron work too is used - in the windows, on the ladder rail in the kitchen, the exposed sliding track over the dining room doors, in the legs of the kitchen bench and coffee table in the front room, in the pool fence and again in the massive structural "paperclip", which dominates the rear courtyard.

The recurring use of a cross motif throughout the house is also a reference to the house's Tudor heritage. Wooden cruciform columns are used as supporting beams, the screen on the pool fence is cross patterned, the metal front gates feature cross-shaped stencil cutouts, an external door facing the kitchen has a glassed cross at eye level and the rear gate is perforated with a constellation of crosses, looking like the sky filled with stars on a clear night.

This house is full of fabulous detail and playful references to its heritage, yet apart from that glimpse of that starry gate, the house hides its secrets well from the outside world.