The circa 1880s building at 2-4 Carroll Street, North Melbourne has been horse stables, sausage factory, storage facility during World War II, and a plumbing workshop before its current life as a home.
SeaChange actress Sigrid Thornton and producer Tom Burstall purchased the property in 1977, converting it into their two-storey residence under the supervision of prominent local architect, Suzanne Dance.
Sigrid explains the backstory, ‘We were both really inspired by the possibilities the double block offered, providing optimum use of the garden with the building located on the eastern boundary. The unusual stables building had large spaces and openings on all sides creating light and volume. The bonus for us was an elevated position looking over the park to a beautiful square.’
A master carpenter who worked on Rippon Lea Estate was engaged to convert the former stables facing Carrolls Lane into the home you see today. The design pays homage to the original timber features of the former 1880s stable with a liberal use of kauri pine joinery, western red cedar, tallowwood, and kauri flooring.
Sigrid and Tom purchased the neighbouring single-fronted Victorian terrace in the early ‘90s, and, combined with the stables, created an L-shaped home facing a paved and tiered garden.
The garden encompasses mature trees, a fountain, and decking and is directly connected to several rooms — including a library and office areas — to form an integral part of the home. It’s been a hub in the creative life of Melbourne over the years and the site of many legendary get togethers attended by artists, actors, writers, and musicians.
Sigrid notes, ‘The interior living and working spaces flow through into the completely private garden and this operates as an atmospheric exterior living and entertaining area.’
Across the combined 421 square metre site (with two titles) today are four bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, and multiple living areas. ‘As our lives changed and family came and went, the configuration has evolved accordingly,’ says Sigrid. ‘More recently, we have used the cottage wing’s creative spaces to develop film and television productions.’
After 40+ years in this property, Sigrid and Tom are selling their home with plans to downsize and travel. Mementos of their life here are embedded into the walls as tiles and artefacts, marking another bygone chapter in this historic property.