Standing outside the beautiful Fleur florist tucked away in the whimsical backstreets of Armadale, it’s hard to imagine this building once suffered from years of neglect, resulting in swarms of white ants, rot and unspeakable filth.
But that’s just what owner Fleur McHarg – one of Melbourne’s most prominent florists – and her husband found when they first collected the keys to this former newsagency after receiving a call from her friends at a nearby boutique alerting her to the building’s vacancy and urging her to take on the challenge.
‘I had said once before that I’d never open up a shop again but the opportunity to retail in such a gorgeous area was too good to be true’, she said, before mentioning the building was in such a state it was ‘almost condemned’ when they first signed on.
The couple embarked on a ‘major, major renovation’, completely rebuilding the site from the ground up, laying new flooring including a slick polished concrete slab as well as completely rebuilding every single room in the building.
The renovation took just eight weeks to complete with the couple unearthing some delightful surprises along the way, including a stunning original feature ceiling in the front room which has been restored and painted white to bring an elegant yet understated old-world charm into this contemporary floral space.
Fleur wanted the flowers to be the feature of the shop and so was careful not to let the finishes and furniture steal the show, instead purchasing modest furniture and painting everything white, while dressing the room with treasures collected over her 20 years in the business.
‘It’s interesting because what works for a florist wouldn’t necessarily work for say a gift shop or boutique – this space would probably be quite cold if it housed homewares or clothing, but because we’ve let the flowers become the hero of the room, it completely changes the dynamics of the space to bring a unique warmth as only flowers can’, Fleur says.
Wicker lighting pendants from Indonesia serve as one of the few textured elements in the space – originally sourced for Fleur’s family home ‘but somehow wound up here instead, you wouldn’t believe how many people wander in from the street asking where they are from’.
A beautiful chair from The Milswyn in South Yarra – a gift from Fleur’s good friend Paul Hecker of Hecker Guthrie – has been placed in the room to provide understated balance in this organic, colour-filled space, while the shop’s exterior was restored back to its heritage roots.
The perfect addition to the Rose Street trading precinct, Fleur’s Florist is effortlessly light, bright and colour-filled. It’s hard to believe that such an invigorating space could have once housed such neglect. But then every building has its secrets, right?