A chance meeting with celebrated interior designer Leslie Currey; and the Roy Grounds house you’ve never heard of.
Leslie J Currey is familiar with design controversy. After all he was the head designer and partner at the hugely successful 1980’s interior design firm Riddel Marly of South Yarra, housed in that equally iconic 310 Toorak Road building (yes the one with the full height glass and Corinthian columns).
So when a chance meeting at Moonbria yielded an unexpected interior design project that he worked on in 1989 for his then pharmaceutical magnate client Margarita Nicholas and her husband Maurice in an unknown Roy Grounds house, we were all ears.
All ears indeed, because Stonnington council nor heritage Victoria had heard of this hidden Grounds gem, despite a small cohort of passionate Hill street residents telling them about it.
“It was classic grounds throughout” whispers Mr Currey in his renowned and mild mannered lyrical voice typical of the small North England hamlet of Halebarns where he comes from.
“As a matter of fact my client didn’t want Grounds to do the interiors, I was to avoid Roy at all costs”. “Do what you want just don’t tell Roy” - that was Margarita’s brief to me. “They were wonderful clients to work with, no limits at all, I was in paradise who wouldn’t be” says Mr Currey. “I even brought in the latest state of the art fireplace and an equally lavish and sumptuous electrically operated chandelier to hang from the mezzanine level and all to the delight of my Scandinavian born client” he says gleefully.
“Access to 22 Hill street was so easy” says Mr Currey, “my clients were renting townhouse four behind Roy’s equally iconic ‘round’ house, so the commute was easy”. “I still prefer the house without those gates” he adds.
“Still 22 Hill street Toorak is by far a project that is still very close to my heart; a wonderful client with an open cheque book in a glorious aloof Grounds house; what more could you want” says Mr Currey with a glint in his eye. And isn’t that the ultimate sleeper design he whispers. True, Mr Currey, very true indeed.
And with that Mr Currey politely thanked us, pardoned himself and said he was heading off to visit another client.
How charmingly chivalrous.
Words Rowena Paterson
Images Pat Mc Carthy.
-Special thanks to Mr Currey, Lyndal Wischer at Montsalvat & Richard Mirfield Hill Street.
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"To shape buildings this is real architecture" -Roy Burman Grounds 1905 - 1981