The Loft

The Home Base blog

Labour Of Love

With creativity and hard graft this Perth couple have created a striking owner-built abode in Wembley


What do you get when two highly successful corporate types with a passion for travel, the arts, architecture and design build their dream home? This meticulously planned Wembley residence is a reflection of its owners’ amazing attention to detail and finely tuned aesthetic sensibilities combined with lashings of love and sentiment.

Gino Premici, the son of an old-school artisan builder, has had a long-standing love affair with design, architecture and creativity, which serves him well in his current role as Home Base general manager.

His wife Marie, founder of swoon-worthy lighting company The Montauk Lighting Co. has a passion for cooking, beautiful interiors and travel.

Both often give their time to community arts projects or use their design capabilities to help raise much-needed funds for medical research that is close to their hearts. So it is little wonder that the duo’s biggest creative project to date, their very own home, is nothing short of a masterpiece.

From the moment you set eyes upon the detailed facade, you can’t help but fall in love with the property which is as homely and welcoming as it is grand. It is filled with meaningful objects and art – many pieces have a beautiful story attached to them, while others are the result of ideas gathered during extensive travel.

Everything in the home has been carefully curated and the result is spectacular.

“As a result of our jobs, we have always found travel to be a great way to unwind and reset,” Marie says. “So, several times a year, we would do just that. We absolutely love big cities – Rome, Athens, Paris, London and New York in particular. A major drawcard of New York is the stunning and varied architecture and the gorgeous interiors. We’re often surprised by the wow factor there – from the majesty of the MET, to the lines in the Flatiron Building – we’ve even fallen in love with the design of powder rooms in bars and restaurants.”

After renovating a home in Perth’s southern suburbs, the duo decided it was time to relocate closer to the city to cut down on travel time to work.

“We looked for over five years around the inner-city areas and settled on Wembley because of the great block sizes and the proximity to the city, Subiaco and the coast,” Gino says.

After finding a block, they set about planning the new build.

“We originally wanted to emulate the Art Deco style of architecture. We soon realised that we couldn’t do the era justice within our budget – Art Deco is expensive,” he says. “Ultimately, we tried to create a home in keeping with Wembley’s character. We love the warm and homely feel of the American homes you see in magazines and in movies – high ceilings, large communal living spaces, plenty of outdoor areas and lots of garden. It suits our way of life too – enjoying the beautiful weather and having the space to host friends and family.”

The planning process took just over a year and the building process a further two years, with the couple taking on the role of owner-builders.

“We loved having total control but that was a double-edged sword,” Gino says. “It meant we needed to be available all the time, sometimes 24/7. The other difficult part was trying to achieve our vision within our budget. Having access to so many amazing products, especially through Home Base, we were like kids in a candy store. With the flexibility to chop and change, one of the benefits was that all the savings we made during the construction phase essentially went into the finishings of the home.”

Gino says getting the facade right was a big challenge and the couple spent a lot of time refining it with designer Joe Germano, of Germano Designs.

“Symmetry and balance was important to us and as we were fortunate enough to have the garage at the back of the house because of our rear laneway, we wanted to really make a statement without imposing too much on the streetscape,” he says.

“Lots of detail has gone into the facade, including mouldings, cladding, timber panelling, feature lighting and tiling along with custom cast lettering made in the USA.”

Inside, attention to detail has paid dividends. “All of the small details – including the cornices, skirtings and architraves, door handles, staircase balustrading, tiles and fabric selections for window treatments – are a reflection of the things we love,” Marie says.

“Gino’s attention to detail really shone through during the whole process.” They made good use of mood boards when planning the interior design. “We always collected samples of materials we were using and then physically looked at the options all together – often in situ, to see how the light would change the appearance of colours etc,” Marie says. “For the floors, we obtained samples of the various wood stains available and looked at them on-site. We did the same for the internal and external paints – and actually painted on boards and put them up against the exterior of our house – both in the front and back yards. And even around the side… and even at different times of day.”

As the hub of the home, the kitchen is meticulously planned to cater equally as well for easy-prep weekday dinners as it does for entertaining large groups.

“Working with Maggie from Town & Country Designs, we managed to create some great zones within the space,” Marie says. “The inclusion of the scullery was important, the ability to shut off mess when we had guests was imperative. It also needed to house the coolroom fridge to store drinks and loads of food for when those big festive moments hit the household.”

Storage and flow were vital aspects of the design brief. “We needed it to provide the ability to interact with each other and our guests in and around the kitchen,” Marie says. “The flow to the dining room and outdoor entertaining area was also very important. We both have big families so it was always important for us to get this element 100 per cent right.”

The big-picture elements such as the relaxed outdoor spaces finished with thoughtful plantings and a lap pool; the light-filled living spaces; luxurious bathrooms combined with impressive interior lighting and Bianco Carrara marble benchtops and splashbacks; the dark stained timber floors and the double-hung windows combine to make this home one you’d be hard pressed to leave.

“We actually wouldn’t change a lot,” Gino says. “We put in a huge amount of time and effort into pre-planning this project and worked closely with our designer to make sure we ticked all the boxes.”

And while it sounds like a gruelling and taxing project, both Gino and Marie had a blast putting it together.

“I definitely think everyone is creative,” Marie says. “The mistake we all make though is thinking that if we aren’t creative in a professional or proficient sense, we shouldn’t pursue our creativity. That’s a huge mistake. Creativity is an excellent way to manage stress because true creativity requires you to be mindful and to be ‘in the moment’ with whatever it is you are doing.”

Read more about the project on the Brick by Brick Facebook page.