The Garden of Dr Ernest Fooks

The Melbourne MCM scene is abuzz at the moment at the listing of this AMAZING home on the real estate market!

So who was Dr Ernest Fooks and why is this home so revered?  That’s a story you can read on the Victorian Heritage Database or here from Secret Design Studio.

Clearly, this is an architectural wonder.  The fittings and furniture are perfect and speak of the architect’s background and influences.  What’s more, is that the garden presents itself as such a great example of Australian MCM landscaping!  I’ll be honest.  I haven’t visited the home in person (YET!), but with plenty of inspection times available, that is an issue that I hope to remedy very soon!  But for now I am relying on some quite good images from the real estate agent.

So here you have it, my take on The Home of Dr Ernest & Noemi Fooks!

32 Howitt Road Caulfield North Vic 3161 - House for Sale #113688863 - realestate.com.au

From the street, the home sits behind a densely planted garden.  Native and exotic trees provide a great canopy to understorey planting that consists of a variety of  architectural plants, such as exotic Yuccas and native grasses (Poa species).  The garden bed surface is a gravel mulch which blends well with the pebble crete driveway.  The entrance path is a combination of stone steppers and dark river pebbles.  Behind a brick wall are private courtyards to the front of the home, which continue the paving and plantings from the front garden.  The plantings, surfaces and even the letterbox all complement the style of the home and begin to display Japanese influences in both the architecture and garden.

The low profile and street presence of the home just enhances its appeal.  No need for dominating rooflines here!

32 Howitt Road Caulfield North Vic 3161 - House for Sale #113688863 - realestate.com.au

From the inside, the immaculate detailing of each room also provides great views of garden spaces.  As seen above, a light court planted with bamboo creates a great extension to the dining room.

32 Howitt Road Caulfield North Vic 3161 - House for Sale #113688863 - realestate.com.au

The main living area and master bedroom open out onto a raised outdoor entertaining space.  The materials from the building are reflected throughout the garden with walls and planters using the same brick as the building facade.  In this way the garden structures work as part of the overall design and have clearly been considered in this way by the architect.  The straight, clean lines of the built in benches to this area again display Japanese influence and create a pretty amazing entertaining space.  A large deciduous canopy tree (what looks like a Chinese Elm – Ulmus parvifolia) sits just to the north of this area and would provide good shade for Summer parties!

32 Howitt Road Caulfield North Vic 3161 - House for Sale #113688863 - realestate.com.au

Stepping down from the outdoor entertaining space is a swimming pool set in a pebble-crete pavement with a unique tiled coping.  A black timber arbour borders the pool deck to the south and east and this again reflects the materials and profile of the home.  A convenient door provides quick access to the ensuite and saves wet feet from going through the main living areas!

I love the use of the curved brick wall as a feature to this space, while providing a screen to what could be a utilities area of the garden.

The garden has dense planting to the boundaries which provides a good buffer to the neighbours and creates a great private garden.  While the planting palette appears to be a mixture of tropical (Cliveas, Jacaranda), native (Eucalyptus, Dicksonia – Tree Ferns) and exotics (Magnolia, Ivy, Ulmus, Yucca) it does work well and the variety of foliage texture and colour is a great backdrop to the home.

32 Howitt Road Caulfield North Vic 3161 - House for Sale #113688863 - realestate.com.au

To the side of the main outdoor entertaining space is an area of slate paving moving out into the rear lawn.  Again, dense border planting soften the built elements while a low brick planter provides some planting to the front of living room windows.  While a number of different paving materials are used throughout the garden, they all complement the textures and colours of the home.  Even some wall art is on display and is in keeping with the amazing decorative features of the interior!

The home and garden have clearly been designed as part of the one scheme and as I have said before, that is how it should be!

The garden of Dr Fooks looks great in photos and all I can say is if you are in Melbourne, get on down to the open for inspections and see it yourself!  (I plan to this weekend)

32 Howitt Road Caulfield North Vic 3161 – House for Sale #113688863 – realestate.com.au.

So what can be learnt from this home?

  1. Anything designed by Dr Ernest Fooks is bound to be the epitome of modern style and good taste!
  2. The home doesn’t dominate the street and has a low profile, maintaining privacy behind a planted garden with great canopy trees.
  3. Windows throughout the home connect the interior and exterior spaces with great use of planted light courts.
  4. Brickwork extends out to the garden and matches the building facade, while timber arbours reflect the eaves and carport lines.
  5. An outdoor entertaining space with built in benches works as an extension to the living room and bar
  6. Walls are used throughout the garden to create separate private garden ‘rooms’ and screen utilities
  7. A mixture of native, exotic and tropical plantings provide a variety of foliage textures, while a large canopy tree provides summer shade to the main entertaining areas.

The Next Step

If you have a home and garden that you think could be improved through a thoughtful approach to modernist design then please contact me and we can begin the process!

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