Agents and their spaces: Fiona Counsel

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The grand and opulent Victorian terrace home of Fiona Counsel represents one of the finest examples of boom style architecture.

09 October 2018

Behind the privacy of an imposing fence, the home, set deep into the block and framed by resplendent gardens, is an oasis of tranquility in the heart of cosmopolitan St Kilda.

Exuding the extravagance of the Gold Rush, the home retains many charming original features including marble fireplaces, travertine floors, arched windows and a rare double staircase.

‘The front lounge and dining rooms are my favourite because they are so grand and stately. They have an enduring appeal which speaks of years gone by, as well as offering cosy, comfortable spaces,’ says Fiona.

Fiona and her family moved into their home ten years ago, instantly falling in love with the elegant, luxuriously proportioned living environment.

‘We really connected with the home. The grand old rooms have inspired the styling because I love period pieces that tell a story,’ says Fiona.

Exceptionally crafted furniture is favoured in the styling of the home, most of which has been acquired over many years. Fiona notes a grand vintage French armoire as her favourite, it has moved around with them many times.

‘For us, it’s what’s in a house that makes it a home. We love those pieces that have great stories, including antiques that have been with us for years, items that we bought overseas and family heirlooms,’ says Fiona.

The home is thoughtfully decorated throughout, an eclectic mix of old and new, accented by family photographs and an exceptional art collection.

‘My husband Julian is an avid art collector. A very dear friend of his was Philip Hunter, who tragically passed away last year. He developed an enormous profile for himself in the art world as an Australian landscape artist. A lot of our work is Phil’s. My husband has been collecting since before he was even known as an artist. We have had some of the pieces for over 35 years. They have pride of place in our hearts and in our home,’ says Fiona.

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The front lounge and dining rooms are my favourite because they are so grand and stately. They have an enduring appeal which speaks of years gone by, as well as offering cosy, comfortable spaces.

The move to St Kilda was a carefully considered one, having previously lived within the Stonnington area.

‘It’s a colourful suburb. It has the best of both worlds, you have beautiful parklands and you have the beach, so that is an absolute plus. There is a tremendous variety of people in the area. From a community perspective it’s all happening,’ says Fiona.

Accessibility was a major drawcard, with everything in easy reach the family tends not to drive anywhere outside of work. Fiona frequents a host of local spots include Baker D. Chirico for some of the best coffee and pastries in Melbourne, Fitzrovia for brunch, Mr. Wolf for a casual dinner and new favourite Bistro Voliere.

‘Working at Marshall White is not a job. It’s a lifestyle,’ Fiona muses. A lifetime working in sales prepared Fiona well for the real estate industry, thriving in her dynamic and ever evolving role.

Fiona offers simple, sound advice about the property market. ‘Listen to what stage of life you are at and be selective about who you choose as your agent. Make sure you have a connection with them and they respect and understand you and what you are looking for. Be realistic about your expectations and be patient,’ says Fiona.

‘My final piece of advice for preparing to sell your home is to make sure you declutter. We want people to fall in love with your house, not your home. You have to be ruthless, but it will make moving day a lot less daunting.’

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