Hidden in a tranquil corner of Australia’s Red Hill, about an hour’s drive into the countryside from Melbourne, lies a new bed and breakfast concept called Bassano
A haven for design lovers, this one-bedroom bolthole made for two is the epitome of modern luxury. A central sliding wall of fluted glass transitions the space from casual to intimate, with an eclectic mix of carefully curated objects setting the tone.
Owners Scotty and Eliza Bemelen called on architect Tom Robertson and interiors stylist Simone Haag to create a property that challenges the conventions of its location.
With a backdrop of rolling paddocks and the playful hee-haws of resident donkeys Peppi and Guido, a farmhouse design might have been the obvious choice. This is far from it.
There is something special about stepping inside a structure that is home to an aesthetic in such stark contrast with its surroundings. Robertson has revamped two existing cabins to create a single private suite and artist’s studio.
A central steel spine strongly delineates this identity, with a refined industrial look. Carved into two halves, one side of the suite comprises the kitchen and breakfast nook alongside a cosy lounge, while the other is dedicated to the bedroom and en suite.
The interior, which wouldn’t look out of place in a fashionable Milanese apartment, balances bold, brutalist ideas with delicate details. Hence the refined choice of furniture and homeware.
“Simone looks at projects holistically and with a narrative eye. Everything is considered and custom. You know you’re going to get something really unexpected. We absolutely knew that we had to work with her on this project,” says Eliza Bemelen.
Inspired by the name of the property, which pays homage to the Bemelens’ ties to Italy, 1960s and 70s European pieces are paired with contemporary components. Highlights include a re-issue of the Radiofonografo Stereo, vintage Italian light fixtures and an Annie Hieronymus sofa. Wicker chairs, attributed to Alessandro Becchi for Giovannetti, make a statement.
Other touches speak of design a little closer to home, such as a side table by Melbourne-based artisan Zachary Frankel and Byron Bay designer Sarah Ellison’s Yoko bed.
The bedroom is layered with sumptuous fabrics that add a real sense of warmth. Custom head cushions are draped in Jean Paul Gaultier. A ‘Yin Yang’ woven throw from CLR lies on a Bed Threads blanket. Also helping to set the mood are 1950s mid-century wall lights by Hans-Agne Jakobsson from vintage marketplace Pamono.
Other thoughtful features make for a relaxing retreat. Perhaps the most striking is the slow-soak concrete bath, which contrasts with the travertine flooring. It has an overhead skylight that streams in light from above as you bathe. Just the spot to unwind after a day exploring the prize-winning vineyards, dramatic surf and beautiful sandy bay beaches for which Red Hill is known.
There is an art to balancing function with style, and Bassano certainly delivers. The joining of forces of two passionate owners with an architect and interiors connoisseur who value conjuring the unexpected makes for a must-visit B&B – albeit in its least traditional form.
Images by Derek Swawell
As featured in OnOffice 160, Autumn 2022. Read a digital version of the issue for free here