The east Melbourne renovated 1960s clinker brick house of fashion accessories designer Renée Whyte-Costa (pictured) and husband, vineyard owner Charlie Costa. Photo: Armelle Habib
Local legend has it that the first occupants of Renée Whyte-Costa's 1960s clinker brick home in Melbourne's east won first prize in a lottery. Whyte-Costa, a fashion accessory designer, and her husband, vineyard owner Charlie Costa, feel similarly fortunate to have bought the home with views to the Dandenongs after it was passed in at auction in 2008.
"Although it was dilapidated when we found it, and I was terrified at the thought of the renovation, Charlie had a real vision for it," says Whyte-Costa.
During the 18 months spent restoring the home, the couple were thrilled to discover wooden parquetry floors underneath the shagpile carpets, and bemused to find real floorboards hidden underneath layers of both linoleum and fake floorboards.
A disused garage in the rear yard was transformed into a light-filled studio, where Whyte-Costa now creates the vibrant designs for her label, Wizzer and Whyte.
"I'm in there for hours, lost in my creations," she says. "My label has flourished since I have worked from the studio."
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With only a few small projects left before the renovation is complete, Whyte-Costa is happy. "Charlie is convinced," she adds, "that there is still money hidden downstairs in the cellar. I like to joke that he searches for it when I'm out, as when I get home I find cobwebs in his hair."
Photography: Armelle Habib