With a business in trendy furniture, Simon and Bianca Sokolski know how to make a house look good.
It wasn’t quite love at first sight when Simon and Bianca Sokolski inspected the Prahran home they would later buy.
Previous owners had adorned it in green carpet and brown blinds which shut out loads of natural light.
“It was a bit off-putting, but we thought it had a lot of potential and knew a lot of the problems were visual not structural,” Sokolski says.
The couple purchased the Victorian double-fronted house five years ago and have since transformed it with their signature contemporary-meets-classic style.
The Sokolskis own Sokol Designer Furniture, which specialises in replica pieces. They now have a showroom and warehouse in Melbourne and another in Alexandria, Sydney.
Moving to Prahran from a three-storey townhouse in Melbourne’s St Kilda, gave the couple the opportunity to indulge their love of homewares.
Buying furniture for their new digs also gave them an insight into the industry and revealed an opening in the market.
“We just thought we could find things and do things better than what was out there,” Sokolski says.
Because they furnished their house before opening the business, there is actually only a select amount of furniture from their own store. Son Zac, three, has a replica Eero Aarnio kid’s ball chair in his room, while daughter Lola, 15 months, has a replica Eames couch used her bedroom.
After rejigging the interiors, the Sokolski’s first major job was landscaping the gardens. Cracked sandstone pavers were replaced with darker lava stone in the front garden and in the backyard, the plunge pool was complemented with a purple feature wall surrounded by easy to maintain, but attractive plants such as yukkas and birds of paradise.
“We had a vision of what we thought would work and it has made a huge difference,” Sokolski says.
“The house courtyards around the pool, so it gets a lot of natural light. We spend most of our time in the dining and lounge areas, which looks out to the pool and patio.”
Next they tackled the master bedroom, which was reconfigured to enlarge and modernise the bathroom. The bathroom featured marble tiles, which was fashionable in the 1990’s when the room was last updated.
Typical of Victorian-era houses the Sokolski’s house featured a long, central hallway. But unusually, it was carpeted. This was promptly ditched and swapped for timber floorboards.
Sokolski has sought advice and inspiration from his father, who is an architect, and is sure to call on his expertise for their next renovation.
“The next phase is the kitchen, dining and formal dining areas,” Sokolski says.
“We want to make a bit more room and make it more modern.”
Having his own fond memories of growing up in a similar-style Victorian home in Elsternwick, Sokolski says he is happy to stay put.
“Since moving here, we’ve had some big changes in our lives. We moved here just after we were married, started the business from here, the babies were born here and we bought a puppy here,” he says.
“I can’t envisage us moving in the future.”