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Yarravale Road, Studley Park

The winding, heavily-treed, riverside enclave of Studley Park is filled with architectural gems and contains an extraordinary collection of post-war, modernist houses showcasing the work of many of Australia's most important architects including Robin Boyd, Roy Grounds, Peter McIntyre, Graeme Gunn and Neil Everist.

This house, designed in 1952 by Russian émigré Anatol Kagan, has undergone a number of facelifts over its lifetime, as each new owner has modernised the house according to the trends of the day. Fortunately, many original features, including the original cabinetry and wall paneling, large windows and internal winding staircase remain. While the various "updates" have not altered the spirit of the house, many beautiful features have been lost, including the original stone wall bordering the footpath at the front. It has been rendered over, as has much of the house's exterior, covering stone work and the characteristic orange bricks of the era, which once so prominently featured in the protruding wall at the front of the house.

The house is set on a steep block and is overshadowed by a grand and sculptural Norfolk pine. Original photos show this "guardian" of the house as a newly planted sapling, only a few feet high and surrounded by lush grass.

The main level of the house is reached via a steep staircase, leading to a heavy wooden, beautifully carved door. A Schulim Krimper design, it is decorated with circle motifs that reappear elsewhere in the carpentry throughout the house. The entrance hall is dominated by a wooden balustrade, protecting the spiral staircase which corkscrews down to the entertaining area below. Not surprisingly, the cabinetry throughout the house is a feature. Schulim Krimper was an eminent Melbourne cabinet maker of the 1950s and 1960s, renowned for his sympathetic use of wood and the quality of his craftsmanship. Today his pieces are owned by public galleries and collectors throughout the country, and the opportunity to see so much of his work in situ is special.

To the left of the entrance hall, through elegant wooden screen doors is a large sitting room. The fireplace is also a more recent addition - built by the previous owners in an early 2000 style. The parquetry floor throughout is thought to be a 1990s addition, along with the inlaid carpets in the sitting and dining rooms. It is likely the house would have been carpeted when built.

The pool, added in the 60s, was done far more sympathetically with minimal coping and unobtrusive cream pavers. The Moroccan-style acqua hand-painted tiles add a sophisticated retro palette to the otherwise simple pool surrounds.

Down the spiral staircase is a large room. One side is completely paneled in wood in a chequerboard pattern - a magnificent example of Krimper artisanship, and again using the circle motif. The other side has large windows overlooking the front garden, and what is thought to be a 1960s addition - a bar complete with its own black and white chequerboard paneling - a garish echo of the 1950s original across the room!

Happily, the house now has owners who fell in love with it and want to retain as much of its heritage as possible. When they bought in 2007, they gave the house a light interior facelift, installing heating, new curtains, wiring and painting. It is still a work in progress, and they ultimately intend to reinstate much of the house's 1950s features.