top of page

Previous Page: Appian Way Burwood    Next Page: Gascoigne Estate Malvern

Malvern's Art Nouveau and Federation Style

11 Coppin Street MALVERN EAST

Art Nouveau was an artistic style that peaked from 1890 to 1905.

  • It is characterised by extensive use of floral motifs and sought to bring art into all areas of life.

  • Art Nouveau designers were architects, interior decorators, artists, sculptors and furniture designers.

  • Art Nouveau is a decorative style easily recognised by its sinuous, curvi-linear forms often based on the exaggeration of vines, flowers and foliage.


Beginning in the late 19th century, Art Nouveau reached its peak in 1900 with the Exposition Universelle in Paris before all but petering out by 1914.

Malvern Streetscapes

One of the best period streetscapes in Melbourne is Gascoigne Estate, East Malvern (Finch Street and Central Park Road).

Rae Tomlinson, from Marshall White, says the area, developed in the 1880s, is like a prestigious housing estate.

“Most of the houses are Edwardian with a couple of Victorians scattered in the estate so there is a consistency of build.”

Malvern Streetscapes

Art Nouveau Decoration

is found in the design of our Federation Houses features such as:

  • Leadlight glass panels in doors and windows

  • Smaller "bulls-eye" windows

  • Verandah fretwork decoration

  • Indoor breezeway fretwork

  • Bay window decorative arches

  • Wallpaper and friezes such as from William Morris and Charles Voysey

  • Plaster decoration of cornices

  • Plaster ceiling roses

  • Wainscoting (wall panelling)

  • Brassware such as light switches

  • Stairway design

Art Nouveau Decoration
60 Tooronga Road Malvern Vic 3144 image6
Finchlea, 17 Manning Road Malvern East
17 Manning Road Malvern image2.jpg


Finchlea, 17 Manning Road, Malvern East

This magnificent brick Federation family residence was built in 1910 and externally features a complex roof with a variety of gables, dormers and projecting bays. 

Internally throughout the residence there is are wonderfully decorated rooms each with distinctive character and grand proportions . 

  • An exuberant Art Nouveau screen frames romantic leadlight decoration

  • An Art Nouveau arch matches the leadlight glass feature window

  • The leadlight glass is eye-poppingly beautiful

  • The ceilings are ornate but understated, and the ceiling roses are remarkable

  • The timber fireplaces are ornate with beautiful period tiling

17 Manning Road Malvern image01
17 Manning Road Malvern image3
17 Manning Road Malvern image2
17 Manning Road Malvern image5
17 Manning Road Malvern image4
17 Manning Road Malvern image10
4 Beaver Street, Malvern East
82 Finch Street, Malvern East

Strapwork Fretwork

Ornamentation imitating pierced and interlaced straps

The influence of Chinese-style (Oriental) strapwork on Western design in the late 19th Century, is illustrated here (central item below)

from ‘The Grammar of Ornament‘ by Owen Jones:

94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
Chinese design.jpg

In the history of art and design, strapwork is the use of stylised representations  of ribbon-like forms in ornament.

These may loosely imitate  leather straps, parchment or metal cut into elaborate shapes, with piercings, and often interwoven in a geometric pattern.


Tillbrook, 60 Tooronga Road Malvern


The “Tillbrook” family home is in the heart of the Gascoigne Estate

This 1911 Federation Queen Anne home is surrounded by 6 meter high hedging and has been meticulously restored to exacting standards.

The Art Nouveau decoration is exquisite in both public rooms and in the bedrooms, and the main bedroom also has a box bay window and original fretwork.

  • The verandah fretwork is arched with beautiful fretwork in the corner gable

  • The leadlight windows are of a very high standard of detailing

  • The timber fireplaces are artfully ornate, and the two birds above the mantle are emblematic of William Morris design.

Tillbrook, 60 Tooronga Road Malvern
Strapwork Fretwork

Architects Ussher

& Kemp

In 1895-97 Henry Kemp is believed to have been in Sydney, but he returned to Melbourne where in 1899 he entered into a brilliant partnership with Beverley Ussher (1867-1908).

In 1899 Melbourne architects Ussher & Kemp designed six Federation Queen Anne houses in Finch Street, Malvern, establishing the area's new character.

Their practice specialised in domestic design work and their houses epitomise the Marseilles-tiled Federation Queen Anne style houses characteristic of Melbourne, and considered now to be a truly distinctive Australian genre.


At the time of their practice their designs were a conscious break with the Victorian use of cement render, applied stucco ornament, cast iron, slate roofs, and double hung windows. 


Their new look was (Queen Anne style) red and white.

Their designs used red bricks, red terracotta tiles and white trimmed casement windows;  they avoided applied ornamentation and developed substantial timber details, replacing cast iron.


Honest architecture:

The picturesque character of their houses results from a conscious attempt to express externally the functional variety of rooms within, using gables, dormers, bays, roof axes, and chimneys to reveal the rooms beneath.


Superb examples of their designs:

Biography Kemp, Henry Hardie (1859–1946) by George Tibbits

Read more:


Euretta 79 Kerferd Street Malvern East, (c1911)

In one of the most sought after Gascoigne locations, this magnificent brick Edwardian residence brilliantly conveys captivating original period elegance and contemporary design.

  • Elegant leadllight windows

  • Whimsical verandah fretwork

61 Finch Street Malvern East
Euretta 79 Kerferd Street Malvern East, (c1911)
Architects Ussher and Kemp
16 Central Park Road Malvern East
5 Central Park Road Malvern East

Brantwood: 94 Tooronga Road Malvern

This is an elegant, elevated Edwardian residence, superbly renovated with an extended interior.

Characterised by beautiful period attributes such as

  • tessellated tile return verandah,

  • loads of original leadlight glass,

  • timber fretwork,

  • decorative ceilings, cornices, and roses,

  • multiple fireplaces with mantles, plus a huge Baltic pine hallway. 

Brantwood: 94 Tooronga Road Malvern


94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 m
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
94 Tooronga Road Malvern East Vic 3145 i
60 Tooronga Road Malvern Vic 3144 image6

Left: Dining Room at 60 Tooronga Road Malvern Vic 3144

The ceiling cornice is Victorian, but the furniture and leadlight show Art Nouveau decoration;

the two birds above the mantle are emblematic of William Morris.


Below: William Morris - Strawberry Thief (Red)

Strawberry Thief by William Morris
William Morris age 53.jpg

William Morris

“Morris’s name and reputation are indissolubly linked to wallpaper design."

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was asociated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, and he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production.

His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain.

Born in WalthamstowEssex, to a wealthy middle-class family, Morris came under the strong influence of medievalism while studying Classics at Oxford University, there joining the Birmingham Set.

After university, he trained as an architect, married Jane Burden, and developed a decorative arts firm with Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Webb, and others: the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.

Becoming highly fashionable and much in demand, the firm profoundly influenced interior decoration throughout the Victorian period, with Morris designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and stained glass windows.

In 1875, Morris assumed total control of the company, which was renamed Morris & Co.

Morris is recognised as one of the most significant cultural figures of Victorian Britain; though best known in his lifetime as a poet, he posthumously became better known for his fabric and wallpaper designs. 

Victorian William Morris decoration in Malvern East


  1. Glencairn, 11 Coppin Street, Malvern East

  2. Video: 92 Tooronga Road Malvern East - Wm Morris papers and wainscoting.

  3. Gallery: 92 Tooronga Road Malvern East


​Glencairn, 11 Coppin Street, Malvern East

All the elements that contribute to the Gascoigne Estate's desirability as a family address are captured by Glencairn, a stylish, substantial Federation era residence in which abundant natural light and exceptionally generous proportions form an unforgettable combination.

A formal dining room that retains rich period character is matched by the modern excellence of bright living and dining areas and a contemporary kitchen featuring Miele appliances and stone surfaces.

Beyond, a north facing rear garden offering leafy privacy and impressive size provides the perfect outdoor accompaniment.

"It is always interesting to compare period homes in the Gascoigne.

This Federation-style house feels like a home that has been shown respect and has been well-cared for over the years.

The entrance and front four period rooms have all the grace and space of the larger homes of this era." 

"There is no ensuite, but that is not uncommon in homes this era, where the period rooms have often remained unaltered. (An ensuite could be possible by converting the study here.)" 

- Comment by Gina Kantzas, James Buyer Advocates 

William Morris decoration
​Glencairn, 11 Coppin Street, Malvern East


The Decorative Frieze

The Decorative Frieze

 An Art Nouveau influence derived from William Morris designs

11 Coppin Street MALVERN EAST
11 Coppin Street MALVERN EAST

At Left:

The Iris Frieze is adapted from the work of designer/illustrator Walter Crane, and was one of the first patterns of the Victorian era to foreshadow the coming of Art Nouveau, a movement which owed much of its earliest inspiration to the original genius of Crane.

The Iris frieze by Walter Crane

At left:

The wallpaper frieze below the cornice is William Morris inspired, but he did not design friezes himself.



Hand Printed Victorian Floral Art Wallpaper | Kelmscott Frieze (18″ high) | design by William Morris

‘Acanthus’, wallpaper by William Morris

“Did you know that William Morris eschewed friezes?

He considered the wall division superfluous and recommended papering right up to the ceiling.

Be that as it may, chances are good that you have rooms with friezes if you live in a late-Victorian style home.

  • In classical architecture, the frieze is defined as the space between the architrave and cornice.

    • The decorated interior frieze came into its own during the reign of Queen Victoria.

    • (In 1812, the British removed the Elgin Marbles, the Parthenon’s world-famous frieze, to display it in the British Museum.)

    • The era’s ceilings were typically high, and a divided wall balances the room’s proportions, bringing the eye down from the ceiling.

    • The frieze was considered (except, apparently, by Morris) an integral part of the room’s overall finish.
      - Source: Old House Online

92 Tooronga Road Malvern East


92 Tooronga Road Malvern East

"Classic Edwardian With Scope"

This impressive slate-roofed Edwardian family residence is privately tucked away in an elevated position behind a leafy mature garden.

Introduced by a tessellated tile verandah it beautifully showcases classic period features including timber fretwork and over mantles with original fireplaces, shiny Baltic Pine floors, ornately decorated ceilings and cornices, dado walls and colourful leadlight glass all meticulously restored and preserved to original specifications.

The interior also features William Morris wall papering and fabrics complementing the decor and comprises elegant formal living and dining with box bay window, three bedrooms, period style bathroom, informal living, 

Keep Reading
bottom of page