Inside: A home for Mozart by the sea
Words and photos by Clinton KrauseEarly on in my conversation with the current owners of ‘Chatenay’, a charming Edwardian house in Warrnambool, I am bemused to hear that a literal interpretation of the home’s French name is ‘Castle’.
As a bastion for the vast repository of art, furniture, china and glassware contained within the house, I can see that it is a fitting title for this property.
Chatenay was built around 1914 and with its commanding position, was designed to take in the expansive ocean views that can still be enjoyed from the wide deep verandahs or within the home.
Paul Wilson and Sue Glaisher became the current custodians of the property in 2008, following a succession of owners dating back to the first owners – believed to be the Jukes family for whom Jukes St is named.Originally from Essendon, the couple had already enjoyed the challenge of owning and renovating a traditional early Victorian worker’s cottage and a family inheritance of substantial period furniture ensured that the interior décor reflected the architecture of this era.
Sue’s academic background with interests in history and art and her passion for period architecture meant that it some ways the purchase of Chatenay was predestined.
After enjoying a coffee in Liebig street and spotting the house in an agent’s window, an inspection was made on Tuesday, and papers signed Thursday.
Sue’s partner, Paul, quips that it was the dearest coffee he has ever bought!Apart from some minor works including the installation of central heating – a considerable challenge given the labyrinth of stone walls below floor level – little else was required and it is refreshing to find that many of the buildings original features have remained intact.
Original carved timber fireplace mantles, delightfully intricate fretwork arches and window bays and battened timber ceiling panels are tangible reminders of a time when a craftsman’s decorative skills were an essential part of a home’s personality.
Externally, the house appears much the same as early photos depict.
Apart from replacement of the tin roof with terracotta tiles and the sensitive addition of a glazed window gable to the attic (all by previous owners) the property with its gardenesque setting and picket fencing is a portrait of Edwardian period living.
Inside, too, the original décor of the rooms is enhanced with the couple’s collections of period mahogany sideboards, dining suites, glassware and china.
A baby grand in the music room is complemented with the accoutrements of themed cushions, metronomes, a framed print of a J. Harold Henry composition cover and even imposing busts of the classical masters Beethoven and Mozart looking on from above.As we continue the tour, it becomes apparent that there is one décor element that prevails throughout the house – it may be possible that Sue’s collection of framed prints could rival a regional art gallery!
No wall is safe (I count six in the guest toilet alone) and in some rooms larger works are displayed on attractive carved timber easels – presumably because of lack of wall space.
Sue confesses that her ‘guilty pleasure’ began back in Melbourne, and was fuelled by an art framer/ friend that she met. Seemingly innocent at first, it was not long before an interest became an obsession – to the point where her friend began sourcing and supplying artwork to feed a growing ‘addiction’!
The relocation to Warrnambool brought this relationship to an end, with the sad fact that Sue could no longer have regular and ready access to her ‘fixer’.
Despite a few relapses with a local art framer, Sue assures me that she is on the road to recovery.
I too feel that she is now back in control – after all, I can’t see that there is a wall free anywhere in the house that could provide the space for another picture!
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