When looking for property near Coogee, Australia, Marcella Kaspar and her husband, Mark Cooper, had an advantage—she’s an artist and he’s a designer, so they could look beyond the obvious. “I grew up in Coogee not far from this property,” says Kaspar. “We were really lucky no one else besides us seemed that interested in it. We absolutely loved it and we could see the potential.”
Working as a team, Kaspar and Cooper created a beautiful, unique new home based on the premise of five-star resort living. “We love the concept of the indoor and outdoor areas merging, so the house was oriented around a central courtyard with a pool,” says Kaspar. “This means the house is always cool in summer, and we enjoy the wonderful play of light as reflections from the water move through the interior spaces.”
Both work from home, so they wanted to create a space that is beautiful and inspirational. Having renovated previously, Kaspar and Cooper knew what they wanted in this house and were no-fuss in their approach.
Clever design incorporates cross-ventilation as well as an open floor plan centered around a courtyard. Walls and floors were treated as canvases for Kaspar’s striking and dramatic artworks and the couple’s collection of eclectic furniture and decorative pieces.
“One of the most important factors in designing the house was to make sure we had large walls to feature my artworks. We wanted to make sure that we could see the flower paintings from all different angles and from different areas,” says Kaspar. “It was important to include the colors of nature that show up in my large-scale flower paintings.”
“I am inspired by the colors and tones of flowers, especially peonies, and the colors of the house were inspired by the large painting I had in mind for the living room.”—Marcella Kaspar
The couple chose rough-hewn granite tiles for the floors throughout the house and granite with a honed finish for the kitchen counter and backsplash. Walls were painted in cocooning charcoal tones, while a wax finish was used on the ceilings. Working with color every day in her work, Kaspar had the paint colors mixed to her specifications and loves the idea that they are unique to the space.
“It’s also a great house for entertaining,” she adds. “I especially love the house at night with candles and dimmed lighting and with the pool lit up.”
Born in Prague, where she lived until she was 10 before moving to Australia, Kaspar admits to having a passion for vintage crystal and fine glass inspired by her grandparents and their extensive collection. In her own home, colorful vintage glasses, Portuguese wine-bottle lamps, and decorative crystal chandeliers mingle with more contemporary timber-veneer pendant lights by New Zealand designer David Trubridge.
Oversize sofas covered in Belgian linen are filled with throw pillows made by Kaspar from vintage Japanese obi cloth and Varanasi saris found on her travels. Perhaps the most prized possession is the 100-year-old frangipani tree that cost the couple a small fortune to have transported and craned onto the site after Cooper saw it while driving past an abandoned block in the southern suburbs. It took four men to dig it up and a year of tender loving care to see it get through the move and back to full health. Now the tree, like the home’s other inhabitants, enjoys the sublime serenity of courtyard living.
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By Karen Cotton | Photography by Simon Kenny/Living Inside