Grong Grong Interior by Molecule

This sumptuous Australian home, winner of the 2012 Melbourne Design Award for Residential Decoration, is a personalised and truly original living space. Explicitly wanting to avoid a 'safe' or minimalist approach, the client provided the designers, Melbourne based studio Molecule, with a brief for a home that could offer two experiences - relaxation when in private mode and glamour when in public mode.

The property is a reproduction period house in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak. Essentially it's a new building trying to look old, and typically in Toorak these are furnished with reproduction period furniture. The designers decided to sidestep this 'farce'.

They announced to the building, "We'll ignore your newness and treat you as the fin-de-siecle edifice you purport to be. Let's do a contemporary interior that references your supposed oldness."

The Neo classical facade divulges nothing of the building's interior

Taking their cues from the building itself - "I'm new but I want to be old" - the design team at Molecule created a contemporary interior that reimagines the building as an exclusive and glamorous private hotel. "We wanted to achieve the exhilaration one experiences on arriving at the anonymous entry of a boutique hotel, to step inside and be transported in Alice in Wonderland style to an alternate reality that somehow feels miles from the street outside."

The lobby played a critical role in achieving this. The juxtaposition of pieces from different eras and styles makes an immediate statement.

The Moooi Smoke Chair, Staarck Cadre Mirror and Bocci chandelier establish a penchant for modern pieces that draw from history.

On the ground floor it's a tale of two worlds. Cross the threshold and you are faced with the choice of the opulent glamour of the Salon or the more private family Living Room.

Part palace, part bazaar and part Miss Havisham's house, the Salon is a grand, luxurious room that takes its 'private hotel' aspirations seriously. A fabulous marble bar sits alongside lushly upholstered custom furniture and contemporary artworks. With its fun, strong and idiosyncratic look, this room is all about glamour, excitement and aspiration.

Tom Dixon's wingback chair in royal blue velvet recasts the 18th century classic British gentleman's chair. The custom rug offers another contextual wink to the observant, as does a one-off three legged table from Barbera that feels both contemporary and vintage.

In contrast to the Salon, the Living Room provides a more serene backdrop for family life. Against a wall of custom joinery and full-height glazing, a new sofa joins an Eames Lounger, a 1970s armchair and a 1930s Japanese slipper cabinet - furnishing a look that hovers in style and time.

Upstairs, bedroom suites and an elegant study deliberately retreat from the energy of the ground floor.

The members of the design team acknowledge that the success of this project owes much to the client's courage to avoid cliché.

"When orchestrating an interior for a journey into the unexpected, the risk is creating a stage set, and not an environment for living. The challenge was finding a way for the 'twist' to be mild enough for the environment to remain supportive and not subversive."

Photography: Shannon McGrath