Month: March 2019


Paul Mercurio recalls Strictly Ballroom through stills

Film stills from the exhibition Starstruck: n Movie Portraits at the National Portrait GalleryCandy – Abbie Cornish as Candy and Heath Ledger as Dan on the Gravitron by Hugh HartshorneSupplied to Garry Maddox for his story My Brilliant Career – Sam Neill and Judy Davis on set with Director Gillian Armstrong by David KynochFilm stills from the exhibition Starstruck: n Movie Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery
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.Film stills from the exhibition Starstruck: n Movie Portraits at the National Portrait GalleryDead Calm – Nicole Kidman as Rae Ingram holding a spear gun by Jim Sheldon

.Film stills from the exhibition Starstruck: n Movie Portraits at the National Portrait GalleryMuriel’s Wedding – Toni Collette as Muriel trying on a wedding dress by Robert McFarlane

Twenty-five years after Strictly Ballroom became a hit, Paul Mercurio still gets asked to recreate moments from the film.

He was in a butcher shop in Melbourne – appropriately named Char Char Char – when a customer asked him for a “twirl” this week. She was so delighted when he complied that she bought some of the mustard and chutney he sells to supplement his income outside films, TV shows and cook books.

But while proud of Strictly Ballroom, Mercurio, at 54, had mixed feelings seeing an iconic photograph from the film in a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

“It’s shocking,” he said. “People keep showing me photos of me 26 years ago, when I was a fair bit lighter and had more hair.”

The exhibition, Starstruck: n Movie Portraits, features 275 stills from more than a century of n film, assembled over three years with the National Film and Sound Archive.

They include such instantly recognisable faces as Nicole Kidman (Dead Calm), Heath Ledger (Two Hands and Candy), Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding), Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) and Geoffrey Rush (Shine).

But there are also striking portraits of supporting actors, including Lewis Fitz-Gerald in Breaker Morant and Isabel Lucas in The Water Diviner, and stars from decades ago such as Shirley Ann Richards (Lovers and Luggers), Daphne Campbell (The Overlanders) and Alma Lee (The Silence Of Dean Maitland).

It’s an exhibition that raises the question of how well a photograph taken to promote a film can also be a revealing portrait.

Co-curator Jennifer Coombes said the best stills were an interesting blurring of fiction and reality that captured both the spirit of a character and a film.

“Sometimes they’re capturing the actors between takes,” she said. “Or even a group of actors who never appear in the same scene but appear in the poster.”

For Mercurio, the Strictly Ballroom image with Tara Morice in the exhibition captures a moment that will resonate with fans of the film.

“You remember where you were when you saw it or the people you were with or what was going on in your life,” he said. “It sparks off a lot of different memories.

“Whether it’s pictures of The Castle or Moulin Rouge or Ned Kelly, they open up memories and feelings.”

Even after all these years, Mercurio said someone will still tell him most weeks how much Strictly Ballroom has meant to them. Often Baz Luhrmann’s warm-hearted comedy about a rebellious dancer helped them through a tough time or inspired them to dance.

But there is one moment from the film that Mercurio might stop recreating.

While judging a charity dance competition at Coffs Harbour last month, he tried a trademark knee slide across an unforgiving floor. The result: lost skin and a sore knee.

“I probably slid about three inches but, with all my years of training, I hit the position, held it and everyone applauded,” Mercurio said. “Then I got up as if nothing had happened and limped to the lectern.”

Starstruck: n Movie Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra until March next year.

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Greatest hits: A guide to Dea Jolly’s signature style

One of the best things to come out of our participation on two series of The Block has been starting our own design and construct business, D + D Home.
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As a couple obsessed with real estate, construction and design, a move into building and designing our own projects, as well as taking on clients, was our dream at the end of Darren’s football career. We have been very lucky to have a steady stream of clients wanting to engage us.

Every client has their own vision for their home but the ones who have approached me for interior design advice have decided that they love certain things about my style and would like to replicate that aesthetic in their own homes.

These are the most requested styles and trends that I am asked to create for clients. Bathrooms

Our first bathroom on The Block was my favourite and one that has inspired many since. I think that is because it was timeless and, considering how expensive it is to renovate or build a new bathroom, following trends that will date in a year or two is not smart.

I always specify a neutral palette of white, greys, charcoal, navy and timber – colours that never date.

Quality fixtures and finishes are a must and nothing that is too on-trend. For example, I’m careful with metallic taps; I love them but they do go in and out of fashion. Related: Don’t overlook this area of your homeRelated: How many pillows is too many?Related: Dea Jolly’s tips for the ultimate master suite

Stick to chrome or black and stay current with less expensive and easily changed items such as towels.

Feature tiles are a great way to make a statement as long as they are not overdone. Choose one or two walls, or the floor, for a marble mosaic or patterned tile and keep the rest of the space simple and clean with large format tiles to avoid distracting grout lines. Marble bench tops give that beautiful hit of luxury. Kitchens

Kitchens are the most expensive space to fit out in most homes and another one where a classic approach is a good choice.

I like to create warmth with timeless hard finish and colour choices. Once again my palette for kitchens is neutral with plenty of white, mixed with warm greys, putty, pale green and timbers.

I love to add interest with simple shaker door profiles and either a small handle or none at all. Open shelving or glass fronted overhead cabinets are always my preference over solid overhead cabinets.

Functionality is crucial so I spend a lot of time working out how clients use their kitchens, how much storage they need and that all the right appliances are included. Final flourish

Texture is an important part of the aesthetic clients ask me to deliver.

Grass cloth wallpaper brings a sophisticated, elegant feel to any room and looks especially good in dark colours if you are brave enough.

Wall panelling is another of my favourite applications that can create either a casual look or a high end, period style.

Herringbone or chevron timber and tile floors are a beautiful choice and work best with simple design.

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Madeleine West’s character-filled South Yarra home for sale

Not surprisingly, the kitchen is the heart and soul of the Melbourne home of celebrity chef Shannon Bennett and his partner, actor Madeleine West. But there is so much more to their inner-city mansion with its character-filled rooms and dreamy contemporary extension, now listed for sale.
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While Bennett, West and their six children are moving to Toorak, their South Yarra mansion, Barwon, is an inspiring example of how a historic house can be reinvented for today’s high-powered, busy lifestyles.

The original 1881 house features a mix of Italianate and Georgian influences. Colonial architect Edmund Ovey designed the house for himself while he was helping create the villas and churches of marvellous Melbourne.

Luckily, the drawing room still has the original eye-popping painted walls – an unusual feature for the period. Also the historic hand-painted panels in the hallway frieze have survived the passage of time.

It was no easy task to revitalise the mansion in a sensitive way but architects Jackson Clements Burrows have created an extension that adds verve, style and warmth to make this a wonderful stylish family home without being opulent or over the top.

“It’s a great family home, a great house to share with friends and a great house to be private in,” says Bennett, who heads up the Vue de Monde restaurant empire and straddles the small screen on the Channel Nine’s Masterchef series.

West, who originally made a name for herself on Neighbours and now plays breakfast host Erica on Network Ten’s The Wrong Girl, says: “Once behind closed doors, the home is the perfect sanctuary.”

She says the architect has “given the house a clean, streamlined modernity that not only sympathises with but actually complements the historical aspects of the home”. Related: The unusual product our homes could be made fromRelated: How this kitchen went from derelict to dreamyRelated: What n home design gets wrong

A grand entrance hall opens on one side to the spectacular painted drawing room with frescos, marble mantelpiece and fireplace. Across the way is a masculine study in moody tones. Next, the formal sitting room is a bright, elegant room with bay windows looking on to the garden.

This is West’s favourite retreat. “We have strived to create a space to escape to, to share with friends, to dream a little,” she says.

It’s a perfect place for some quiet time for West and Bennett, the parents of five daughters and one son. She has written a book on parenting called Six Under Eight.

For a change of pace, step into the present century with the contemporary kitchen and inviting living area, which were designed in 2013. The palette is restrained with charcoal cabinets, a sculptural white benchtop and a stainless-steel bench containing a sink and Miele induction stove tops. Other practical pluses include three ovens, a Mastercool fridge and a built-in coffee machine.

This is a fully functional kitchen – almost like a stage – where the next owner can dream of acquiring just a fraction of the culinary skills of the present one.

It was updated a couple of years ago (again by Jackson Clements Burrows) to Bennett’s precise specifications.

A horizontal window behind the kitchen frames a bamboo-lined courtyard. The kitchen area also opens to a deck with outdoor cooking facilities (including a pizza oven).

One of the lovely features of the house is the choice of various outdoor dining areas – a green courtyard, an al fresco deck or pool dining – what takes your fancy?

There are also several balconies upstairs – perfect for hiding away with a good book.

The family room is a place to snuggle up alongside a floating fireplace, timber-lined wall, vaulted ceiling and muted tones.

Upstairs the colour palette is continued in the contemporary parents’ retreat with its dark tones, automated window shutters, walk-in wardrobe and spacious en suite in marble with a double shower.

The children’s bedrooms are in the original house. All have beautiful proportions with high ceilings, period fireplaces and built-in desks. There’s a small study facing out front and a family bathroom (matching the en suite) with a freestanding oval bath and shower.

The renovation was about unlocking the ability of the house to function as a contemporary family home, says architect Jon Clements, of Jackson Clements Burrows.

“We designed an extension that is different to the original building so they reinforce the presence of each other,” he says. “We used dark materials to relate back to the darker detailing of the original house, the wrought-iron balustrades and so forth.” The living room is essentially a “pavilion in the garden”, he says.

Of course, there are some bells and whistles hidden away. Look out for the cinema room (cleverly converted from a former garage), underground temperature-controlled wine cellar for 3000 bottles, a solar-heated pool and a fully kitted-out gym.

A subtle studio with fold-down bed and en suite bathroom is handy for guests and you can park your cars in the connecting garage or front yard. On top of the garage is a rooftop garden with perennial herbs and vegetables.

One of the big surprises is the size of the block, about 1250 square metres, which has been attractively landscaped. Now mature, the garden offers lovely unexpected vistas from various rooms and screens the house from its neighbours, creating a real sanctuary in the city.

Listing agent, from Kay & Burton, Ross Savas says: “It’s an incredible renovation, extending the existing traditional home while maintaining the warmth and charm of its era. This home has a great balance of formal and informal rooms that are beautifully proportioned.”

Barwon is a successful combination of a historic, character-filled home and a stylish, intelligent extension.It’s not just the best of both worlds, it’s the best of all worlds.

Barwon, at 38 Cromwell Road in South Yarra, is for sale through Kay & Burton’s Ross Savas. Expressions of interest close at 5pm on November 21, with price hopes of $7 million to $7.7 million.

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The best properties on show in Melbourne

47 The Grove, Coburg
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$3 million-$3.3 million 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces

Waratah is a boom-era beauty, one of a semi-detached pair of the grandest imaginable c1890 townhouses with ornate brickwork, a tower, iron-lace-trimmed return balcony and magnificent internal period detail. Original features are complemented by a Peter Corrigan renovation, a more recent interior makeover and elegant landscaping and an outdoor zone on its 900-square-metre block. Bedrooms are upstairs, some with annexed rooms that suggest potential for en suites.

Expressions of interest: close 5pm, November 21Agent:Nelson Alexander, Jacqui Knapsey 0418 592 509 20 Camp Street, ChelseaPhoto: Hocking Stuart

$3.2 million-$3.5 million 8 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 8 car spaces

There’s room for a big family, plenty of guests and holiday-house options at this generous 2001 home built on a stretch of family-friendly beach frontage between the pier and the surf lifesaving club. The house, on 618 square metres of land, can be one home or two, with an upper-floor abode of five en-suited bedrooms enjoying bay views and a smaller ground-level pad alongside the triple garage. It’s a three-minute walk to the train or a 40-minute drive up Nepean Highway to the CBD.

Auction: 11.30am, November 12Agent:Hocking Stuart, Daniel Wright 0414 788 828 1/1 Alexandra Avenue, South YarraPhoto: Abercromby’s

$1.55 million-$1.7 million 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 car space

The triple-A ring to this address underlines its enviable location on a prominent corner. The elevated ground-floor apartment, newly renovated, looks west from an enclosed sunroom to the Botanic Gardens and north, from a secure porch and through the living room’s picture window, to the 1899 Morell Bridge over the Yarra. Step from the kitchen to a courtyard with pool and barbecue area shared with others in the boutique 1920s building.

Auction: 11.30am, November 18Agent:Abercromby’s, Ada Taylor 0428 058 880 12 Athol Street, PrahranPhoto: Urban Angles

$1.65 million-$1.75 million 3 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 1 car space

This double-fronted Victorian exudes heritage charm and is perfectly positioned between Fawkner Park, Greville Street boutiques and the train station. Prahran Market is an eight-minute walk away. Three bedrooms, each with a fireplace, are off the central hallway leading to a bright and functional open-plan kitchen, dining and living zone. Green thumbs will enjoy the courtyard and garden.

Auction: 1pm, November 18 Agent:Biggin & Scott, Tom McCarthy 0418 326 897 139 Hoddle Street, RichmondPhoto: Jellis Craig

$1.7 million-$1.87 million 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 car space

This solid-brick cottage facing East Melbourne and with its back to West Richmond station, was built in 1855, just 18 years after surveyor Robert Hoddle laid out the CBD grid. Adding to its heritage appeal is bespoke silk wallpaper, a coffered sitting room ceiling and a Tuscan garden setting. Rooms are large, there’s a basement cellar and parking off Jika Place.

Expressions of interest: close 6pm, November 16Agent:Jellis Craig, Elliot Gill 0411 863 603 134 Park Street, St Kilda WestPhoto: Marshall White

$3.8 million-$4.1 million 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 car spaces

“Cutting-edge Edwardian” is not an oxymoron but a statement of fact at this prize inner bayside address.

Boasting an expansive studio/guest house with en suite, this property embraces the 21st century with a seamless extension to a private bluestone terrace.

French doors from the formal lounge open to a secluded side terrace. Fully retractable sliding glass panels maximise the “open air” feeling of this home.

A slick gourmet kitchen is stocked with porcelain benches, a butler’s pantry and Smeg and Miele appliances plus a Liebherr integrated fridge.

Fine bespoke cabinetry has been cleverly designed.

Four bathrooms, an automatic watering system and tank, plus a double garage via a rear laneway just a block from the beach make this inner south residence a dream home.

Auction: 1.30pm, December 2Agent:Marshall White, Adrian Wood 0404 861 508 4 Victoria Terrace, South YarraPhoto: Image Factory

$2.25 million-$2,475,0002 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces

Finished to an impeccable standard, this multi-level townhouse with a glass atrium and terrace, en suites in the two bedrooms, private lift and lobby, is inner-city living at its most enviable.

Auction: 11am, November 18Agent:Kay & Burton, Nicole Gleeson 0414 809 221 14 Dundas Place, Albert ParkPhoto: Bruno Cocozza

$3.3 million-$3.6 million 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

A recent architectural addition and a minimalist fit-out. Timber panelling, on-trend lighting and a subdued palette renew this handsome double-fronted Victorian residence. Downsizer interest will zoom in on its main-bedroom/study combo, compact north-facing garden with a come-thither cabana, and two-room bluestone basement cellar. Albert Park village is at the end of the street and Albert Park Lake and the beach are but a stroll away.

Auction: 12.30pm, November 18Agent:Greg Hocking Holdsworth, Greg Hocking 0418 329 961

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This Toorak penthouse is set to smash the apartment record

The penthouse at 29 Washington Street, Toorak, was originally going to market in the off-the-plan way of so many other upscale apartments. Domain editorialised in 2014 that the penthouse in the boutique development of only six apartments would bring a new level of luxury back to Toorak, a suburb with more than a passing acquaintance with the concept. But then developer Orchard Piper had a lightbulb moment: you don’t sell off the plan something so uniquely out of the box.
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Three years later the penthouse is shaping up to smash the suburb’s apartment record.

Washington Street, where we lay our scene, is wide and grand. Como Park sits at the eastern end. From the penthouse’s north-facing terrace (the main terrace, not the terrace with the heated pool-spa, dining and barbecue) you could probably lob a tennis ball over to the Royal South Yarra Lawn Tennis Club.

That’s assuming the views of the city skyline didn’t work their mesmerising spell on you beforehand – a big assumption, because it’s an uninterrupted sweep of Melbourne’s inner suburbs to the CBD’s towers, a view equally arresting during the day and into the evening when the city lights “pop” against the night sky.

That view, incidentally, will never be built out thanks to the area’s height restrictions. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Let’s properly introduce what is destined to be an iconic Melbourne address. Its vital statistics include Jolson Architects, landscape designer Rick Eckersley and interior designer Edwina Glenn. The rugged travertine blocks lining the shared front entrance are full of character. Above hangs a sculptural chandelier from New York lighting design superstar Lindsey Adelman.

But that’s it for sharing. A private lift deposits you directly in your entrance gallery on the third floor, where the soaring white walls have been designed with significant artworks in mind.

Part of the beauty lies in its scale. Imagine 1000 square metres of indoor and outdoor space. Related: How to prove you’ve made the big timeRelated: Toorak mansion set to break sales recordRelated: This triple-A suburb can be affordable

Conceived as an elevated pavilion sitting on the shoulders of its neighbours, it’s an eyrie, surrounded on all sides by natural light, gardens and stunning views.

Agent Marcus Chiminello says his imagined buyers are aspirational downsizers. Downsizers with exquisite taste, it goes without saying. The attention to detail is meticulous to the point of obsessive. The palette is of chocolate travertine, oak floors and veneers and marmorino polished plaster. Sleek, discreet cabinetry is by Poliform.

A sophisticated but understated den sits off the formal living room with its enormous open fireplace, and aids a logical flow through to the wine appreciation room and 1300-bottle cellar accessed through silently opening automatic glass doors.

Above the dining table hang bespoke blown glass pendants from Murano glass manufacturer Venini. Full-height doors throughout – some with leather handles – and three metre-high ceilings add to the sense of space and grandeur.

The main suite personifies the luxe experienced at the pointy end of a five-star hotel. It houses a vast sitting room, individual dressing rooms, en suites and a gymnasium with a sauna.

A second and third bedroom, a world unto themselves thanks to clever zoning, are no second and third-placegetters; each has its own dressing room and en suite.

The state of the art kitchen integrates the technology of a commercial kitchen and the style expected of Toorak. Butler’s pantry? Of course. There’s also a separate entrance for service staff.

One more essential piece of information is the option to purchase it with the furniture package. Imagine. Just turn the key, and call this home.

This feature is part of a Domain Deluxe package.29 Washington Street, ToorakPhoto: Marshall White

$20 million-plus 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 4 car spaces

Agent:Marshall White, Marcus Chiminello 0411 411 271

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