P - A

Kharla Williams - +61 412 064 838


Elwood History

Elwood continues to find itself at the fore of cultural progression, maybe due to its naming after Thomas Ellwood, a British poet and religious rebel who was rather close with John Milton. This homage to the arts and poetry is delicately reverberated throughout the suburb, where you will also find Byron, Keats and Wordsworth streets.

The suburb is one of alluring contradictions, at once unapologetically stylised yet infinitely defined by its stunning displays of nature. Elwood carries a wild and wind-swept beauty, hosting landscapes that could inspire a Monet and streets that echo the various architectural iterations the city has witnessed over the generations. It’s a peaceful neighbourhood where treetop canopies cast delicate patterns of light across the roads and footpaths, creating dreamy daylong shadow dances. Pale ivory shorelines are kissed by golden sunlight and cooled by the deeply hued waters of the shifting tides, veiled by a weathered charm thanks to the surrounding native topography.

Venerated throughout the city for its effortless and inimitable interpretation of both global and local architectural trends, wandering through Elwood’s stunning streetscapes, the waves of Melbourne’s (and indeed the world’s) many aesthetic incarnations are displayed like a tapestry of design brilliance. It’s easy to get lost in the artful brilliance of the homes that define the streets here; great Italianate estates sit alongside Victorian-styled mansions, modernist homes influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and sharply angular contemporary forms that seem to mimic sculptural monuments more than places of residence.

Perhaps more so than any other suburb though, it’s so often Elwood’s reverence to design taken from or inspired by the Art Deco era that captivates spectators. Distinguished by their juxtaposition of strong angular lines with curved forms, textured renders, patterned brickwork and intricate detailing, these homes stand distinct in their environment, icons of artistry and muses of the ages.

Cera Stribley

Cera Stribley’s managing principal, Dom Cerantonio, is a consummate perfectionist with a folio conducive to weak knees. We thought getting inside his brain would help us delve deeper into what truly distinguishes these homes.

Elwood has these really interesting dichotomies within culture and nature – youthful and established; historic and modern. How much did you draw on these elements when considering Pine Ave’s architecture?
Throughout Elwood you will find a lot of Art Deco-inspired buildings. That comes from architecture in the 20s and 30s. Pine Ave has a bit that flavour. Circular forms were a big part of Art Deco movement, so bringing that in was important – we’ve done that by curving the entrances. They are made up of white brickwork – another thing else that was integral to the movement.

At one stage we did consider including more timber to make it feel a little more ‘beachy”, but it has become a little more “city” instead. Initially we had lots of timber and it was all about the beach, but it has done a full circle and come back to something a bit more, Melbourne – striking a nice balance between the two.

So, essentially, the tension here is that while the curves and the facade pay homage to the heritage of the homes’ situ, the materiality itself is perhaps a little bit more urban?
Yes, that’s right. So the brickwork ties back to that Art Deco feel. We’re peeling back the decoration, and instead having something barer and a bit more raw. We’ve used simple metal cladding at the top, which will be in a charcoal. And to be honest, it’s meant to sit in the background, not to dominate the building. The hero feature, really, is that two-storey form at the bottom that shows the curves, and even more, highlights the curves of the entrances. That’s more important than the charcoal top. The idea of the top is that you’re not really meant to see it; it’s almost meant to disappear.

Do you, personally, have a favourite feature?
Yes I do actually. We have implemented a void over the entry, which means it’s actually a double height space as you walk in. The ability to communicate three levels and those feelings of space and light coming through from the top, you just don’t get in the majority of townhomes. So I think that it’s something different.

Obviously a massive signature of the homes is the curved entrance. Besides from drawing on the heritage of the area, do they serve any other function?
It was really important that each townhome has a strong sense of entry. Using the curve, one, highlights the entry point but also softens the process of walking in – somewhere that you can imagine flowing straight into, rather than walking in and doing a hard left or right. There are guidance tools including custom mosaic numbers created in collaboration with Brett Campbell, as you approach the townhomes, making it easy to identify your place. We felt that a sense of ownership was really important. That kind of curved entry aspect has been carried through to the front fence. The front two townhomes have that kind of guided entry with the fence and that is extended around to the side where those side townhomes also enjoy the same curves. Far more inviting.

There’s also quite a significant recess in the built form, adding a sense of intimacy. We have also used a lot of glass in those areas as well; therefore a lot of light will pour through.

So it will be more of a lightwell?
Yes, exactly, filled with natural light.

Well then leading on from this idea of lightwells, can you tell us a little about the cross-ventilation the homes will enjoy?
All townhomes are dual aspect; therefore they have the ability to cross-ventilate. The majority of townhomes are north facing so they’re going to be incredibly light and bright inside.

Just looking at the floor plan, are we correct in assuming that another appealing duality to the homes is their innate flexibility - particularly within the homes’ middle levels?
In the three-bedroom townhomes, the third bedroom can be used more flexibly. It could be used as a kid’s playroom, an office, or obviously, yes as a bedroom. We’ve really tried to make these as flexible as possible for modern households, which I think are becoming far more dynamic in today’s age.

With technology, we are using spaces within our homes quite differently than we were - say - twenty years ago, when open plan was the way to go. There’s actually been a bit of a deviation from that style of living of late and what we’re finding now is the desire to have more segregated spaces. I think people are really starting to appreciate not just more space, but more intimate spaces as well. And that sense of flexibility is something that the market is pushing for, so that’s what we’ve done for Pine Ave.

Cera Stribley Architects Studio

Dom Cerantonio & Chris Stribley

“Circular forms were a big part of the Art Deco movement, so bringing that in was important.”

Dom Cerantonio - Architect

Hana Hakim - Interiors

The Stella Collective

Rapidly building an enviable reputation for her coveted designs, we sat down with The Stella Collective’s founder, Hana Hakim, to have a chat about her inspiration behind Pine Ave’s inimitable interiors.

Tell us a little about The Stella Collective.
We are simply trying to do incredible work. Our formula is “if it feels good then we have to do it”. All of our spaces are created with genuine care and love for good living. We ask “will it make our client, guest, customer, feel amazing?” Because for us that’s what design is all about.

Pine Ave’s location has a remarkable duality where at one end of the street is this incredible cultural hub and at the other the beautiful beach, which really gives the community a distinct feel. Did this influence your musings at all?
Living in Elwood, you get everything you could want. It’s almost like living in Santa Monica; like having the most amazing city in the world and then the beach at your doorstep. It really embraces that soulful kind of living.

How is this sense of “soulful living” reiterated in Pine Ave?
The key theme for these homes has been about embracing the light and letting the Elwood sun in. All of the finishes have a little bit of reflectivity to ensure that the homes have a sunny feel to them. The inspiration that we really took from the site was a villa that you might find in Ibiza – a space that’s quite Mediterranean in style, showered with golden sun, and encourages blissful living.

So, you’re calling it, sort of, sexy?
I am, it has that jet set-like glamour with a bit of boho-chic, but done in a current way. Jade Jagger (Mick Jagger’s daughter) is who we would envision to live here. When we look back at our inspiration images, they’re all emulating an island life feel. We’ve really sought to embrace that culture within the space. You’ll see that everywhere is creating shadow play; the light is dispersed throughout the space as much as it can be. Elwood also has a real romance to it as well; living by the beach, going on early morning walks. Sunset walks, even.

You really do get that sense of romance throughout the spaces, especially on the master bedrooms’ terraces.
Exactly! We wanted to create this beautiful setting where you could really just relish in this romantic feeling. Where you could have day picnics and long mornings in bed. You can really just enjoy your time in the home.

And then of course there are all of the features that also resound with this feeling of romance: lots of bronze and brass elements and large circular forms that represent the sun and a feeling of openness. Something else that was really important to us conceptually was to try and frame views. You’ll see this really come through in the master bedroom where we have really tried to dominate that top floor and treat it as though it’s a beautiful hotel room.

What would you consider your favourite space in the homes?
I love all the spaces! The master bedroom is pretty special, though. Just touching on framing the view, we wanted to create this really open space in the master bedroom where you can actually see into your bathroom, because ultimately living there with your partner, this is your suite at the top floor. We didn’t want to close this off too much; instead we really wanted to embrace that sense of joyful space. By keeping it as open as possible, it means you get to see the best parts of the bathroom – the bath, the beautiful vanity, the details from the reflective surfaces of joinery pieces like the long brass rods. Very sexy, very glamorous, but still authentic and liveable.

It’s interesting to hear you talk about the tension between glamour and authenticity. How does this play out in more practice places in the home?
Well, we’ve been really functional with the kitchen space. Everything has a place, which we think is extremely important. We want homeowners to feel they are so well thought of, that when they’re in their homes they have these moments of, “ah, great, they’ve thought of where I can put my broom or my juicer”.

Can you give us some examples of this?
We have this beautiful feature where, fixed between the tap and the splashback, there is a little reveal behind, where you can put your Aēsop hand soap, lovely organic dishwashing liquid and so on. We have also included really roomy drawers, because drawers are just so much better than cupboards. You can see everything when you pull them out. You don’t end up with tins hidden at the back – everything is easily accessible.

We also designed this planter-come-cookbook display, I call it a “chef’s caddy”. Personally, I am an avid cookbook lover. I would love to have my favourite books on show in the kitchen, but I don’t have anywhere to put them. They just get dirty while I’m cooking. So we thought, “how good would it be to have a plant – like fresh mint or something – and your favourite cookbooks right there?” But of course you could do anything with this display, like place some beautiful crockery. These features really are so flexible, the occupant can do whatever they wish with them.

In our tall bank of joinery — where the fridge and pantry are located — there is heaps of space. There is room on the other side of the fridge to store brooms, dustpans, brushes and anything else you want hidden away.

We see both the kitchen and the bathroom as spaces to unwind, so we don’t want to create cramped spaces where you just want to get in and get out. We want them to feel big, spacious and luxurious.

It’s evident the dining spaces are a continuation of that. There are some interesting things happening in these spaces as well, aren’t there?
Yes, it was really important to ensure the spaces celebrated entertaining, so you don’t end up eating out every night. Selected townhomes have an inbuilt seat that offers some additional storage under it. Plus, it provides seating for a beautiful, big eight-seater dining table – that is very rare in modern townhomes.

That’s the flexibility of these spaces though isn’t it? You can experience the full spectrum of life without any limitations. You can have these moments of retreat and sanctuary, as well as of being social and entertaining.
Exactly. And we intentionally made sure that the walls in outdoor areas were quite high, so you get that sense of privacy. It’s not like a traditional townhome where you can normally see through a metal gate. If you want to tan in your bikini, you can.

And then there’s also an outdoor shower isn’t there?
Yes, the outdoor shower! The main point of this is that after you’ve had your swim at the beach, or been for a jog, you can come back and refresh yourself – without having to step inside.