Carter Lovett

A beautiful, dilapidated Victorian shopfront is transformed into a local hero, fusing contemporary chic with nostalgic charm. The prominent high street corner was the perfect location for a transformation. An exciting and thoughtful programme of placemaking, storytelling and design created a new café meets bistro, a welcoming destination to meet.

The brief called for a journey to 1880. Taking its name from two pioneering women – the site’s original owner, a draper Mrs Mary Carter and florist Ms Jas Lovett. We embraced their entrepreneurial spirit in its transformation.

Working to a budget of $600,000, the main concern was the deterioration of a building that had been largely unloved for a century. Presenting many challenges, the six-month construction phase and budget almost doubled.

The beautiful bare bones of the building gave us timeless grace, into which we injected contemporary warmth. Creative collaborator and graphic designer Andrew Ashton added curiosity with hand-applied murals and signwriting to the façade, through to illustrated menus drawing on 1880 sketches.

Design elements, materials and furniture were meticulously sourced from local craftspeople. Made with love, that enthusiasm radiates in every detail from the leadlight to the clay pendant lamps, crockery, and custom-crafted chairs and tables.

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Interior designer Megan Hounslow designed a placemaking, storytelling place in the corner of the high street in Elsternwick