Before the Fire: Paganin House by Iwan Iwanoff

I originally published this post on the old format of Modaokon here.

Iwanoff fans rejoice.  Iconic Paganin House has been saved! After this famous Iwanoff home in Floreat was gutted days before Christmas 2015 by a house fire, it has now been brought back to life by the careful work of its owners and a team of dedicated tradespeople. And has followed its journey! (I have fond memories of discovering and binge watching this awesome show in those hazy newborn days). If you’re a fan of Iwanoff, make sure you tune in tonight (Sunday 17th March) to ABC1 and ABC iView at 7.40pm. I think it’s wonderful that the owners have put so much of their money, time and energy into piecing this house back together – keeping Iwanoff’s legacy, and an iconic, much-loved Perth home – around for generations to come.

In the meantime, if you’d like to see some pics of this beautiful mid-century home, I wrote this story below after I visited Paganin House in 2013, back when former owner Lisa Fini had just put it on the market.

If you’ve spent much time in Perth at the beaches near Floreat and City Beach, chances are you’ll have driven past this place – Paganin House, this iconic 1960s house on The Boulevard.

The house was designed by renowned Bulgarian-born architect Iwan Iwanoff, who designed what many people in Perth believe to be the coolest houses in Perth (his famous Marsala House in Dianella still has a light-up disco floor!) Iwanoff died in 1986 of pneumonia, but his name crops up time and time again in unofficial listings of Perth’s best houses and Perth’s best architects, and it will continue to do so, because decades on his houses still draw oohs and ahhs. This place is one.

ABOVE: An Iwanoff house and an Instagram filter and you could almost swear this pic was taken in 1965! Paganin House today in 2013.

MARBLE GALORE: The front veranda. The home’s original owners were marble and timber merchants and the home is extensively finished in marble – even around the sides of the house, and to the internal staircase that leads to the undercroft garage. The paving around the pool is marble and so is the floor of the pool house. Photo by .

NEUTRAL WALLS: When she renovated Lisa kept the wall colours predominantly neutral, letting the home’s extensive timber features and colourful accents do the talking. The new kitchen now has white Laminate cabinets with timber edging and some solid timber feature cabinets. “The previous owners had done a renovation in the 80s and put in a pink granite kitchen but I stripped it back to what it was,” she says.

ABOVE LEFT: The orange glass pendant lights above the bar are original. Lisa used to own a lighting company and the house has wonderful feature lighting, with much of it on dimmers. ABOVE RIGHT: The dining area is all original – even the ceiling with concealed lighting beyond the panels.

ABOVE: The main suite. Although two of the bedrooms are at the front of the home, Iwanoff designed them so that their floor level lies beneath the balcony. This feature, teamed with the marble privacy panels and the gentle slope of the land, ensures that no-one from the street can see into the bedrooms. There’s a reason this architect is so respected! Photo by .

SUMMER EVENINGS BY THE POOL: Lisa says the spot by the pool is her favourite part of the home. “I just spent six months in the UK and all I wanted to do when I got back was sit there and look out at the pool,” she says. “When I left London it was -3 degrees, when I got back to Perth it was six o’clock and it was 35 degrees. I sat out there by the pool with a glass of champagne. I love to have family and friends over.”

LET’S GO OUTSIDE: The pool area is my favourite part of this place. It cries out for pool parties and for everyone to dance to Twisting By The Pool. GAME OF POOL BY THE POOL? The pool house has a bar (hidden behind that silver curved cupboard) which is flanked by marble cladding. The pool house also has its own marble-finished change room with toilet and shower.

ABOVE: You know you have a party house when your house has three bars. Paganin House has one bar in the living area, one in the pool house and this one by the pool. Kind of has a Spanish feel don’t you think?

Since I was a kid I’ve always kept an eye out for this house as I drove down The Boulevard. Opposite the beautiful golf course, set far back from the street, it’s arresting. When you catch sight of it, tucked between trees, you can almost imagine you are in another era or place like the 60s in Beverly Hills, with the huge palm trees that edge The Boulevard shading the road. It’s that kind of house that makes you wonder who lives there.