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Interior & Garden: A 1950’s Home Transformed.

Harper Holden, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, Garden Side 675On Wednesday evening we were invited into the stunning home of architect Richard (Holden Harper) and Central Australian Aboriginal Art specialist SJ Holden (Tingari Arts).

A masterclass in colour and art, blending the interior and garden, it was truly inspiring.

Haolden Harper, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, Garden View 675
A 1950’s transformation, redesigned by Richard himself, the property has become an architectural icon, on the map of many architectural open house tours, and never fails to impress. “The charm of the property is the relationship with the garden” says Richard.

Holden Harper, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, Garden Bench 675The garden has been as beautifully designed as the interior and with enormous windows and full length doors leading outside the line between the two is blurred. Richard and SJ have captured the best of the English garden and Australian outdoor way of life in an art lovers paradise.

Holden Harper,Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, Floating diver, 675

The house was built as one of the first private developments in the 1950s. At the time there were just a few standard housing plans available to choose from. These would have faced the road, but the owner had the idea of rotating the plan placing the house in the corner of the plot to face the garden.  “The problem was that they didn’t change any of the doors or windows.” From the street it is an unassuming proerty but when you get inside….

Holden Harper,Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, First Impression, 675

The first thing that strikes you is, of course, the art. It is SJ’s business but, more than that, it is a passion that the couple share.The British art is Richard’s and the Australian, SJ’s. “On quiet winter evenings I will find Richard re-arranging and rehanging all the art. Moving everything around the house, refreshing and giving it new life” says SJ.

The parquet flooring is a work of art in itself, the detailed pattern, relegating the need for carpet or rug and drawing you through from room to room.

Holden Harper, Tingari Arts, thdecorcafe.com, 1950's Wimbledon House Transformed, 675 jpg

The variation in the ceiling height is an important element of the architectural structure of the interior. This area was at one time the garage. You don’t even notice the low ceiling of the corridor positioned next to the lofty ceiling of the sitting room and the windows of the reading nook and dining room leading into the ever-present garden. The variation in heights within the interior scheme, particularly in the lighting, enhance this further.

Holden Harper, Tingari Arts, thdecorcafe.com, 1950's Wimbledon House Transformed, Photographer Nadia Mackenzie, 675

The interior design is testament to the principle that if you create a design that you love and really suits you and your house, it will stand the test of time. The colour scheme was chosen, quite literally, decades ago and still looks as fresh now as it did then. Richard and SJ called on the help of fine artist and interior decorator David Genty to help them. “He walked in and just said ‘Green! It has to be green!'” says SJ. And so it is… back to the relationship with the garden, me thinks!

Holden Harper, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com Dining Room

The use of colour on the ceiling throughout is inspiring. We have been talking about this modern trend at our interior design workshops and club events and here they have had coloured ceilings for years! There is a stunning copper ceiling in the downstairs cloakroom, but the red of the dining room is probably SJ’s favourite reminding her of her Australian home.

Holden Harper, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, 675

It takes a while to notice the ceiling in the cloakroom, as the most stunning feature is the lacquered blue walls. They are literally laquer – nail laquer to be precise, purchased in industrial sized tubs and applied in a two part process.

Holden Harper, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, Master bedroom with fireplace

The master bedroom ceiling is bronze. Every detail has been considered. People are often undecided about the fireplaces in 1950’s houses, without the period charm of Edwardian or earlier properties they are so often ripped out, but here they have been integrated beautifully. The simple black design of the master bedroom fireplace works beautifully with the original monochrome artwork.

Harper Holden, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com Guest bedroom 675

The fireplace in the guest bedroom are inlaid with brilliant blue tiles, reflected in the detailing of the mirror and on the plates displayed on the chest of drawers. Not something I would have ever thought to do, but they look gorgeous lifting the look and feel of the room with a pop of colour.

Holden Harper, tingari arts, thedecorcafe.com, Garden Room

Perhaps the cleverest fireplace design is the one in the garden room. It has a flickering flame design etched on the slate. Unfortunately the only photo I took of it didn’t work well in this feature, the living window sill and sculpture just looked so much better, but I have put it on our facebook page so that if you are interested you can take a look.

Holden Harper, tingari arts, the decorcafe.com red wall

Everywhere the colours are warm and inviting and work beuatifully with the artwork and personal possessions. The heritage of the Australian artwork is fascinating. I didn’t know that most aboriginal art comes from the coast, but since the 1970’s exciting work has been coming from the centre of the country, where they draw inspiration from extraordinary natural beauty of the colours of the desert and enormous sky.

Tingari Arts, Holden Harper, thedecorcafe.com 675

We could have stayed all evening exploring the house and garden, there was so much to see, from extraordinary architecture to the artwork, interior detailing, pond filled with carp and individual bedrooms to the double-sided chicken coop shared with the neighbours, but as the light began to fade, sadly it was time to depart. The lasting memory will be the calm of the garden and the warmth of the house, and our genorous hosts.

Holden Harper, Tingari Arts, thedecorcafe.com, The End Of The Evening

Architects: Holden Harper
Central Australian Aboriginal Art: Tingari Arts

Photography: Nadia Mackenzie (images 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15)

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