For five years, Greek Australian interior designer, Krisi Patras, and her partner, Lachlan McGarvie, were searching Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs for their first home.
But it was only during Victoria’s longest COVID-19 lockdown that “things aligned” and the young couple were able to invest in a property which caught their eye.
The 28-year-old’s spotted online the Villa Italia in Coburg, almost in the shadow of the towers of Pentridge Prison.
Masked up and using one of the only legitimate reasons to leave their 5-kilometre travel limit – which was to do a real-time property inspection – the couple stood in the front yard of the 1949, late-moderne-style brick building and knew they were looking at their forever house.
“Finally, here was our dream,” Patras tells Domain.com.au was her first thought when she saw the house. “I couldn’t sleep that night and became obsessed with the house.”
After that, McGarvie says the much-loved and lived-in house became theirs after they stretched themselves financially “to our fingertips.”
Since the couple took possession in mid-December, Patras has been working hard to maintain some of the original features of the house because she’s so passionate about “appreciating character and texture and all the stuff modern designers want to strip out,” she told Domain.com.au.
The “quite dark,” central kitchen might undergo the biggest alteration by being moved into back-of-house spaces that were originally a home office and laundry, in order to connect better with daylight and the garden.
At first, Patras also thought the carpet would have to go but she has since decided, “we’re going to keep parts of it and make it into rugs.” The kitchen floor tiles will come up, but be recycled into “feature tiles for a pizza oven.”
The main bathroom with hand-painted, tonally beige tiles was also an initial no. “But now I’m appreciating the time and quality in them and seeing that, just because things are old [it] doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad.”
For Patras, Villa Italia is her opportunity to demonstrate “that heritage goes further than a facade.”
“People forget about the importance of (authentic) interiors which, I believe, should be protected as well.”
You can follow Patras’ renovation project over on her Instagram page.