Australian Designer Christian Lyon Balances Maximalism and Minimalism in a Home in Perth
Statement design, including a Paul Evans dining table, Gio Ponti chairs, and Dedar fabrics, mixed with art by Victor Vasarely and Christopher Makos define this Australian residence
For decades, Australian designer Christian Lyon has crafted deeply personal interiors for a Perth family and their four now-adult daughters, building a cache of truly unique furnishings and art that speak to their tastes for rarefied beauty mixed with a sense of approachable luxury. This design thread runs through many of these familial projects, several of which are located within the same Western Australia shire, Peppermint Grove, including the most recent, completed for one of the daughters and her family.
“This was in a way coming home,” says Lyon of his client, who purchased the six-bedroom property. “This was a house she had always driven past and liked very much from the outside, and when it went on to the market, she bought it and asked me to help her transform it.”
The bones of the house were perfect for the client, her husband, and their four children, offering already established zones dedicated to family time and boisterous get-togethers, while other sections are reserved for reprieve. But the home needed an update, so Lyon dove in, adding layer upon layer of bespoke detailing. “We did fireplaces, we did door surrounds, we did front doors, back doors, changed the flooring, changed the wall coverings,” Lyon tells Galerie.
Entering the home via a gated entrance, visitors pass through an exterior courtyard before reaching the front doors, which lead to a central hallway that acts as a spine throughout the space. “There’s a beautiful symmetry to the house,” says the designer. “The challenge was to keep the whole home unified so there was not that awful feeling of walking through a door and being in a different house. I wanted it to flow, but I wanted each area to have different personalities because they have different functions and, to a degree, different occupants.”
To give the client an intimate area to entertain, Lyon transformed a nook near the front entry into a textural feast that’s centered around a massive chaise longe upholstered in Dedar’s Tiger Mountain fabric and a geometric rug by Fort Street Studio. ‘Textiles are my strongest signature with my work,” says the designer. “I use fabric a lot to create the feeling of a room because we’re in contact with fabric. We sit on sofas, we lie on the floor, we open and close our curtains, we pick up pillows and cuddle them. I use textures and textiles to humanize space. I think homes without texture and fabric are homes without spirit.”
A pair of Gio Ponti chairs were re-covered in Dedar’s Romeo & Giulietta silk velvet. A dark textural Phillip Jeffries wall covering plays off the high-gloss black ceiling and moldings. A new chunky marble fireplace was sandblasted and brushed to add texture, where it provides a perfect pedestal for the room’s focal point: a painting by John Young. “There’s a lot of pieces vying for attention in that space so it becomes very jewellike,” says Lyon, who utilized a Haas Tiger vessel from L’Objet to insert a sense of whimsy. “I don’t want any space to be intimidating, and it can get that way when you have beautiful pieces.”
A circulation foyer, placed midway through the interior, is enhanced by a sculptural Paul Evans table found in New York at Todd Merrill and a crownlike Christopher Boots chandelier. “It’s a beautiful punctuation point in the whole movement of the house,” says Lyon. “It’s where you pause and decide where you’re going next. But also, it has the ability to be a lovely entertaining area as well because you can spill out into the little courtyard, have a few drinks, then you can bring chairs to that table and have a very intimate dining experience.”
Portraits of Andy Warhol and Susanne Bartsch by Christopher Makos, discovered at Ralph Pucci, inform a color palette created specifically to “take the edge off” and capture the nuance of a Japanese pen-and-ink drawing, where strong black lines give way to misty washes of charcoal, and soft vanilla is preferred over crisp white. On a nearby wall are two Victor Vasarely artist proofs bought in Paris at an estate sale of the printer’s private collection. “Every element is carefully considered to compound and balance out the feeling in that space.”
A staircase lined in a moody Faye Toogood design from Calico Wallpaper leads to the bedroom suites, where a meteor-shower-like glass installation by Australian artist Mark Douglass transitions the softer downstairs aesthetic to a more glamorous vibe. “With this particular project, I had a concept in mind. I started by finding a few signature pieces that I could hang the interior from,” Lyon says. In the main suite, it was two striking vintage Murano glass cabinets purchased from an antiques dealer in France that set the tone.
“I think homes without texture and fabric are homes without spirit”Christian Lyon
To capture the dreamy blue of the Perth sky, Lyon commissioned a custom iteration of Calico Wallpaper’s Inverted Spaces Orion wallpaper, then layered sumptuous bedding. A custom seafoam-color cabinet Lyon created for the client’s previous home has pride of place near the doorway, where its jewel accents are echoed in a quadrant of gold sconces that illuminate slices of agate. Around the corner, a private dressing area for the husband was designed around a colorful work by Australian artist Dale Frank, the palette of which was echoed in rich woods and an emerald chaise longe. Another Christopher Boots fixture provides a sculptural moment.
Blending a few pieces from the client’s existing collection with an array of new and custom works by Christian Astuguevieille, Shizue Imai, and Agnes Debizet created an interior that was distinguished but without an unapproachable seriousness. “I like interiors to look layered and curated and gathered over the years. Even if I do a project that takes six months, when it’s finished I want it to look like you and members of your family have lived in that residence for generations,” Lyon says. “I want to see those significant pieces, which then become heirlooms and, in a way, want those pieces to look like they’ve been there longer than the family has.”
But most important, the interior was specifically designed to grow and evolve with the family, taking them through their children’s teenage years into adulthood and eventually becoming a gathering space when they visit with families of their own. “I don’t believe in drawing a line in the sand and creating a statement of that particular client’s life at that time,” says the designer. “I like there to be flexibility and nuance and whimsy within a house that allows you to change.”