A designer’s eye and a clever layout take classic furniture to the next level. By Lucy Feagins.

Penelope Loorham and Douglas McMeekin’s South Melbourne home

When fashion designer Penelope Loorham and her husband, Douglas McMeekin, purchased their three-bedroom Victorian home in South Melbourne in 2007, they were fortunate to inherit a thoughtfully renovated space in need of little improvement. The front section of the house dates back to the 1820s, but the rear of the property was altered 10 years ago, resulting in a versatile, light-filled living and dining room, enveloping a lush courtyard garden. Penelope and Douglas simply repainted, changed a few light fittings, installed floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and moved straight in. Of course, despite its great bones, much of this home’s photogenic quality is owed to Penelope’s keen eye. As principal designer at Melbourne fashion label Perri Cutten, Penelope has a passion for rich colour and texture, and meticulous attention to detail. The collection of art and classic furniture she and Douglas have amassed here is notable, yet coolly understated. The family is particularly fond of the Warren Platner chair in the living room, beautifully upholstered in luxe red velvet. The Serge Mouille pendant light above the dining table is a serious collector’s item. “It is a very easy house to live in, very low maintenance – you literally lock the door and go,” says Penelope of the home, which makes the most of its modest inner-city proportions and central location. The family makes good use of the South Melbourne market and spends hours at the Botanic Gardens and other local parks with five-year-old Sebastian. However, alongside these local conveniences, there is a distinct sense of serenity here – when inside, it’s very hard to believe this house is on one of South Melbourne’s busiest streets. Due to its clever layout, with living areas towards the rear of the home, and a few considered decorating decisions, the interior spaces present a sanctuary, far removed from the city outside.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 29, 2014 as "Penelope Loorham and Douglas McMeekin’s Victorian home".

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Lucy Feagins is founder and editor of The Design Files. She is The Saturday Paper’s interiors editor.

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