Is the Old Reclaiming the New?


Residential interior design is taking a turn many claim is an inversion of the ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mantra.

While industrialised, built Australia is a fairly ‘new’ place in comparison to built environments around the world, our heritage buildings are abundant. Stunning terrace houses dot major cities with some of our most cherished and iconic residential buildings the result of early 20th century post-mining boom wealth.

While this industry has had its troubles with the maintenance of heritage buildings, especially in Tasmania where the heritage building list is long and the supply of skilled workers short, there is a strong sense of appreciation of our past, however relatively brief it may be.

The recent Australian Interior Design Awards are a testament to the great appreciation that we as an industry are showing toward heritage.


Winning in the category of Residential Decoration, shortlisted for Colour in Residential Decoration, and named a finalist for both the Sustainability Advancement award and the Premier Award for Interior Design Excellence and Innovation, design firm Atticus & Milo’s Huntingtower embodies the very essence of modern heritage redevelopment and rehabilitation.

The heritage-listed home, based in Hawthorn in Melbourne was originally appreciated for its ‘wonderful bones’ according to design director Caecelia Potter and has been redeveloped to effortlessly fuse these antique elements with various design elements that spread across generations.

”In fact only one or two pieces of furniture were purchased for Huntingtower, the rest being a re-arrangement and editing of the family’s existing furniture pieces, antiques and artworks,” says Potter. “Most of the furniture was 20 years old or more, with artworks varying from beautiful works by Australian artists to pieces by the children.”

Award jurors also note that the building’s appeal lies in its quirky timelessness, which comes from including elements from a range of different timeframes. The seemingly disparate elements “display a skillful, eclectic overlay of art, artifact, furnishings and fabrics to the Victorian heritage-listed shell,” says juror Susan Rossi of DBI Design.


”The interior has a strong personality that reflects the owner’s life story,” says Rossi. “Humour and whimsy combined with a keen eye for placement and decoration produce surprise and delight in all corners of this home.”

Such an example of how this industry handles and represents heritage redevelopments has left us wondering whether the “old” was ever out of style. While modern innovation is always a must-have in any productive industry, it is common knowledge that cycles of style run in every sector across the globe. A culmination of these trends has the ability to create a timeless style – something that stands as iconic design and will be appreciated and recognised in this industry.

By Jane Parkins
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