Dana Burrows recognises how the setting at certain moments can impact significant decisions in her life. The founder of women’s ready-to-wear label Banded Together was in Milan with her husband, Graham (of Jackson Clement Burrows Architects), when planning their Elsternwick home.

“We were in [the concept store at] 10 Corso Como … and they have a beautiful internal courtyard. We thought it would be great if our house had the same sort of feeling,” she tells Broadsheet. “It is not necessarily inspired directly by that – it’s more about a moment we shared.”

Milan was also the point of inspiration for her current business. That moment took place around eight years ago: Burrows was in her favourite cafe in the city, working out what to do after selling Love & Lustre, the underwear and sleepwear label she co-founded. A woman walked by wearing a cream georgette silk shirt and “beautiful” pants, Burrows remembers.

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“She was carrying a briefcase, talking to someone, and was so in control of who she was. I remember thinking, ‘That’s it – I want to make people feel like her.’” And so Banded Together came about, a company that uses high quality natural fibres, sells directly to customers – “It’s a way of bringing the makers and wearers of garments a little bit closer together” – and makes pieces “that people can wear to a breakfast with friends, to a wedding or just during the day”.

Trained as a classical singer, Burrows has always been involved in fashion – her grandparents owned a formal-wear factory on Flinders Lane, and she started designing and making her own clothes (with her grandmother’s help) when she was a child.

Although they work in different fields she and her husband share similar aesthetics, she says, which helped when the couple were thinking about their own home. “We started going out when I was 20, so our tastes were formed together. He’s more of a purist than I am, though – I’ll often add in a bit of detail.”

Their approach is also simpatico: “Neither of us likes wastage or gratuitous design. When we do something or buy something, we’re very committed to doing it the best way we can, to enjoy it the most.”

And so their house, with its clean lines, highly considered design and layers of texture, is not oversized but just right for them and their two daughters. In all, it took around five years to design and build – “I think I was Graham’s scariest client, and definitely his most demanding,” Burrows laughs.

It was important for the pair – who often host dinner parties with family and friends – to have a big dining room, but also “a more intimate dining area, a little extension off the kitchen, for the four of us to sit and talk”. A keen cook, Burrows considers the kitchen “the hub of the house”. “It’s where I am when I’m with my family – it’s a real central point.”

The house, built on what was once an abandoned school tennis court and surrounded by 12 neighbours, is relaxing all round, with the garden a major feature. “It’s a complicated site, and you really needed a good architect to be able to create a space that’s enjoyable to live in but also enjoyable for the neighbours, so that everyone has privacy.”

Built in a U-shape, it’s hidden away behind gardens planted with trees front and back, plus an internal courtyard to one side, with windows carefully oriented to address any overlooking issues. “When you’re in the living spaces, you’re really looking through into separate gardens, surrounded by nature, which is beautiful.”

In the 10 years the family has lived there, their home has adapted to their changing needs. Given it’s exactly the right size for them, “every bit of it is enjoyed every day, too – it works really well that way”.

Name: Dana Burrows
Lives: In a three-bedroom house in Elsternwick
Since: 2014
With: Her husband; two daughters, aged 19 and 21; and two poodles

Even though you’d been planning your house for a long time, were there any surprises when you moved in?
Yes – one of the nicest things about it is the way it changes with the seasons, and also the way the light falls in the house. Obviously, Graham knew about all those things because that’s his job. For me, the low light in winter is quite beautiful. Even on the coldest of days there’s a warmth in the house as the sun kisses you.

Can you describe your house’s vibe and also your approach to decorating it?
It’s true to who Graham is as an architect – he’s very much a contemporary architect and would never do anything “in the style of”. I think the nicest feeling is you just walk in and there’s such a sense of tranquillity and connection to nature. My grandparents lived in a mid-century house in North Caulfield – I was quite influenced by that.

Our approach to decorating is very much like my clothing range in that Graham and I don’t decorate with trends, we just follow our own aesthetic. Every year we buy a piece that’s good design and that connects with us – for instance, for Graham’s 40th birthday I bought him a black stained Eames chair and ottoman. Then there’s a beautiful silk rug made out of recycled saris – that’s quite a special piece. It’s probably not something that Graham would have chosen, but it just works in the house beautifully.

What’s your favourite room?
I love all of them, but I’d probably say the den without the TV on, because it’s cosy and two of the four walls look out to the garden. I know as soon as I sit on the couch in there the dogs will come and sit with me. It’s where I go to read, and I just find it a really relaxing space.

What’s your favourite item in the house?
My two dogs, Harry and Marcel – am I allowed to say that? Are they an item? They’re my favourite things to come home to. The house wouldn’t be the same without them – they bring an energy to it that brings everyone together. And, really, they’re the ones who enjoy the house most because … they’re there more than anyone. My other favourite object is the coffee machine, a Rocket Giotto with two grinders – one for decaf and the other for normal.

What are your favourite places to find homewares and art?
In the last five years, the things we’ve added to the house – like the bar stools and bedside tables, which are all beautifully designed and made – are from In Good Company, the furniture shop next to my store in Armadale. Quite a few of the galleries we’ve bought art from don’t exist anymore, but Graham’s in a position where he works with different artists and we often get exposed to pieces before they become public.

What do you love about your neighbourhood?
The streets of Elsternwick are wonderful, and we live near a gorgeous park. There’s a gorgeous cinema here too, and while the area’s not crowded it’s got everything you need – there’s such a mix of good quality food. There’s a local farmers market at Elwood that we love going to, and Ripponlea Food & Wine is one of our favourite places – we’re always there.

This article first appeared in Domain Review, in partnership with Broadsheet.

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