South Yarra Apartment
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South Yarra Apartment

David Hicks
Ivan Terestchenko

When asked for a one-word descriptor for his redesign of a 1950s apartment in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra, designer David Hicks declares it 'Belgique'.

Hicks shows 'before' images of the first-floor apartment in its full undress - innocuous white spaces wrap around a central entry hall with doors everywhere creating the perception of a small apartment. The rooms are pllain, nicely proportioned and visibly lend themselves to a sober Belgian simplicity that makes the most of grey-washed woods. 

Reacting to the poor images of natural light, Hicks counter-intuitively coloured the apartment grey, rationalising that the best decorative decisions are born of going with the givens. 

He replaced the 'nana neutral' carpets with a chevron-patterened oak parquetry floor and, true to the Belgian way with raw surfaces, washed it grey to suggest weathering. 

With the same muted essentialism, Hicks painted walls in a warm dove grey and picked out all ornamental mouldings and ceilings in white. The clinker brick featurism of the living-room fireplace was cement-rendered away, leaving 'a piece of monumental moernism', which he edged with a new marble hearth.

'We wanted to frame the windows while creating the illusion of their continuation, so we stacked the curtains between them," says Hicks, referring to the drops of ecru Belgian linen that fall from simple steel lrods to parquetry floor. "We mixed formal with informal, antiques with American modernism, vintage with very new and let the conversation happen." 

Hicks redressed solid cupboard doors with ribbed glass panels and crackl-eglazed handles redolent of the 1950s, while inserting mirrored splashbacks that reflect current populist interets in cooking and create the illuions of added depth. 

Designer David Hicks adds a certain je ne sais quoi to soulful Belgian simplicity in a 1950's Melbourne apartment.

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