Interiorssneak peeks

A Melbourne, Australia Home for Creative Collectors

by Annie Werbler

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

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In Silvia's dining room, her own watercolor artwork titled "Chakra" recalls the shape of flowers from her friend's garden.
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Silvia and her dog Sofia, with her painting of husband Frank's grandfather and his horse in Italy. "I had a tiny black and white photo to work from," she recalls. "A challenge to paint, yet satisfying when I saw Frank's pleased reaction. It was a gift to him for a birthday."
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The dining room connects all the living areas in the home, and features a large dining table that was a gift from Silvia's parents for her and Frank's wedding. Orla Kiely wallpaper was an early addition to the home.
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The bright, cozy living room is mostly used for reading and Frank's guitar playing.
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Silvia loves to cook and entertain, and functional stainless steel countertops make for a modern aesthetic and easy clean-up. The open layout is connected to other rooms in the home. "It's nice when I am baking in the evening whilst Frank and Sofia are nearby watching telly," Silvia explains. Photo by Lisbeth Grosmann
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One of the couple's favorite art pieces, a vintage poster they purchased for their wedding anniversary, hangs in the kitchen outside a butler's pantry. "We love Sophia Loren, hence our little poodle being named after her," Silvia says.
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Silvia filled the butler's pantry with her and Frank's keepsakes, glassware, and crockery from their mothers, as well as collectibles. "The tiniest room in our home and my favorite," she adds.
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In the newer section of the home, a modern space for lounging, relaxing, and entertaining. Silvia and Frank open the sliding glass doors overlooking an outdoor dining area to bring the fresh air inside. Photo by Lisbeth Grosmann
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Sofia poses for a photo in Silvia's studio. The space is connected to the outdoor deck where she can also paint and draw. "It's so lovely to have this room positioned next to the garden," Silvia remarks. "There's a floor-to-ceiling sliding pocket door which also gives me privacy." Photo by Lisbeth Grosmann
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"I love my home, it's where I live and work creatively" -- Silvia Rotundo
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An old bar sourced from eBay is used to store Silvia's materials and objects. Her painting "The Big Night" leans on the top shelf. She framed a little plaster hand she made at five years old, and displays her mother's tapestry hoop from when she was a young girl.
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Silvia purchased the old blue cabinet in an antiques store, and displays her still-life work and pottery from local makers around it.
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In a sitting room, a portrait Silvia painted of Sofia along with pottery from local artists and a vintage flea market lamp base. A friend gave her a roll of floral vintage wallpaper as a gift, and from it Silvia had the shade made.
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High ceilings in the master bedroom accent an ornate vintage chandelier Silvia purchased from a client for whom she was doing decorating work. She had it repaired during the home's renovations, and it now proudly adds a little sparkle to the room.
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In a guest bedroom, a vintage hand-painted Chinese storage cabinet displays a printed silk artwork Frank bought for Silvia's 30th birthday. Silvia made the heart textile piece using Japanese fabric for a window display many years ago.
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The nearly 2,000-square-foot home is spread out on one level.

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Comments

  • Oh Silvia. The portrait of your husbands grandfather is magnificent. To have that kind of talent must be a wonderful. Your home reflects who you (and I assume your husband, Frank) are. Truly a work of art.

    • Hello Lena :)
      Thank you for taking the time to write such a beautiful comment ! It means the world to me
      Silvia

  • This home has so much character – it is brilliant. But where on earth did you find vegetable pillow cases? so cool. love your still life pieces too.

  • My heart skipped more than one beat going through this story…. how perfectly wonderful and touching! My love for all of this started right with the painting of Frank’s grandfather – this is real love! Then the attention they paid to the details of keeping all the ‘loved items’ in such high esteem…. I could gush on but won’t – it’s a statement of love lived in every respect. And they are so right: A home without a dog is just a house – I have a metal plate stating that (with a dachshund…..) and although my love for dogs is such that I don’t have one or two for many years now is BECAUSE I can’t look after a pet due to my frequent absences from home. The minute my life should/will be running on a more tranquil path, a dog will be part again of my daily life and joy.

    • Hi Kiki
      How kind you are to leave a lengthy personal comment like this !
      Love and family….what else is there?!
      I hope that one day soon you’ll be sharing your home with your new little dog :)

    • Hi Bert & Mary !
      We’ve had that wallpaper up for almost 7 years now….we never tire of it
      O.K, is the best ! :)

  • A correction from a poodle lover: that is definately not a toy poodle. Maybe a miniature or a medium (she calls her a ‘little’ poodle, which is legit ;).

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