Prestigious postcode 3141 has always stood out in the residential stakes, ever since the heady gold-rush days drew wealthy Melburnians to build grand residences, elegant balconied terraces and pretty villas close to the river and the inner-city’s best parks.
In the modern era, South Yarra seems to be the suburb that has everything for everyone. It has claimed most liveable suburb status in the world’s most liveable city for its proximity to the city, schools (especially since Albert Park College opened in 2011), fashionable eateries, shopping, public transport and abundant open space.
The infinite activity of restaurants, bistros, pubs, wine bars, nightlife and eclectic cafes pumps along the arteries of Toorak Road and Chapel Street, which intersect almost at South Yarra’s heart. Take in the more sedate Domain Road village, and no one in this five-square-kilometre community is more than a few minutes’ walk from a paleo pick-me-up or a cold drip brew.
New and old thrive shoulder to shoulder: foodie heaven Prahran Market – technically in South Yarra – has sat tight since 1891, while main-road apartment blocks build the buzz and the skyline ever upwards.
The south-west corner of the suburb is its lungs. The 41-hectare park reserved in 1862 and named after Melbourne co-founder John Pascoe Fawkner offers sports fields, picnic spots and paths lined with Moreton Bay figs, elms, poplars and oaks, many of which were planted more than 100 years ago.
In one-way Nicholson Street, among the mix of residences, the real charmers are the original Victorian-era houses that have been given new life while retaining heritage character. The facade of the double-fronted single-storey weatherboard at No.50 looks as pretty as you imagine it looked a century ago, and has a paved parking space to one side.
A traditional cast-iron lace petticoat sits under the corrugated iron roof of the timber verandah, which is just the right size to beckon you for coffee in the morning sun.
The two front rooms are identical bedrooms, with sash windows and wardrobes either side of cast-iron fireplaces with timber mantels. Next on the right, off the arched hallway, is a study or nursery and a tiled bathroom with bath and hidden laundry. On the left is the main bedroom, upgraded for the modern couple with a walk-in wardrobe and an all-marble shower in the en suite. The en suite has narrow french doors to the side utility area, and the bedroom has french doors opening to the rear courtyard.
The back half of the house is a well-presented timber-floored addition comprising kitchen and open-plan dining and living room. The kitchen has white matte 2pac joinery, marble benchtops, glass splashback and Smeg cooking appliances.
At the far end of the house, an open fireplace and wood storage are between built-in shelves and plantation-shuttered windows.
The ceilings are high enough to fit a band of clerestory windows to draw in extra natural light. They face north and run all the way down the living room’s east side, above the over-sized fixed panes and sliding glass doors to the courtyard.
The use of glass means the secluded courtyard feels like an adjacent room with its high fences softened by a creeper, hedges and a row of magnolias. A raised deck runs along the length of the living room, doubling as incidental outdoor seating for a crowd.
On a compact 284 square metres, such liveable spaces are utterly loveable.