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James St Residence
James St ResidenceKhaki Jam stars in a minimalist sanctuary created to combat a maximalist family life.
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With six kids and a new puppy, life can get a little hectic. Throw in a couple of hugely successful construction industry businesses, and you really need to have a home with some serious functionality and, dare I say it, serenity.

Despite a string of highly successful projects (some of which had been their own homes) Rebeka and John Morgan, co-directors of building and development firm Beirin Projects, were still hankering to create something special and unique to their needs - their ‘forever home’. Both adored the charm of mid-c20th architecture, so when the perfect vacant block came up in their preferred inner-northern Melbourne suburb of Northcote, they jumped on it and commissioned local architects Bellamo & Cat to design the structure.

Rebeka, well-known to many as the co-founder (together with Kribashini Hannon) of Build Her Collective, an on-line resource that empowers women to build the homes of their dreams, leapt at the chance to draw on her years of building experience to do just that for herself. “We wanted to create a four-bedroom house with a home office, plenty of living space for adults and children. Oh, and ideally provide flexibility for the future. That’s not asking much, is it?” Rebeka laughs.

“The materials were key to this project. As we were working with a minimal palette it was really important to choose beautiful products with a lot of depth."
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Inspired by the fortuitous placement of a large palm tree on the block next door, the main house is L-shaped, and flows effortlessly from the front door into the central kitchen and dining areas, flanked by two living areas. Clever design ensures each space is oriented onto achieve maximum daylight.

On the design, Rebeka says, “What I love about mid-century style is the juxtaposition of contrasting materials. It’s using sleek lines, with organic forms and shapes. It’s about bold use of colours against black and white.” John agrees, saying, “You don’t need to follow the theme so strictly that you end up building a museum. It’s about understanding the intent and the thinking during that period. That’s what I personally love about building – it’s a history lesson too.”

Rebeka, together with joinery specialist Rachel Collard, set to work on the light-filled and very calming interiors, specifying materials and finishes that payed homage to the design period, but with a stunningly elevated contemporary eye. “The materials were key to this project. As we were working with a minimal palette it was really important to choose beautiful products with a lot of depth. The tiles needed to work inside, outside, up the staircase and in the bathrooms, so this was the first material we chose, and we then based the other colours around it.’

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Fibonacci’s Khaki Jam, with its muted palette of warm tones, was the perfect choice for this hard-working home. “Because we are our own clients, building and designing our own houses, we are able to fall in love with something and then just run with it. That is how we felt about the Fibonacci tiles. Khaki Jam has a warmth that works really nicely with our walnut timber and white bricks. And as we have six children we also needed a product that is forgiving and this terrazzo is amazingly user-friendly,” says Rebeka.

Coordinating projects can be unpredictable at the best of times, but throughout a crippling pandemic it posed extreme challenges for many. For Rebeka and John, Fibonacci Stone’s unique inventory offering of ‘no lead time’ for all stock provided important peace of mind. “It certainly helps from a planning and ordering perspective that Fibonacci Stone carry so much stock, especially during the initial Covid stages when the industry was compromised.”

“I absolutely love the honesty of this project,” says Fibonacci Founder, Michael Karakolis. “Rebeka and John have created a home that understands the best intentions of the mid-century architecture movement, in a truly contemporary, yet very family friendly manner.”

“The selection of Khaki Jam is sensational as it works so brilliantly with the other materials – complimenting but not overpowering them. And special mention must be made of the application of the tiles to the steel staircase – this is very clever.”

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