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The light and dark of Ballarat’s Lyon House

Visit Ballarat

17 Sep 2020

Filed underPlaces to Stay

The dynamic duo behind Ballarat’s Lascelles Terraces has again struck gold with their latest local project – boutique accommodation offering Lyon House. 

Martin Shew and David Cook-Doulton have spent the past three years renovating the unique 1880s property, restoring its Victorian and craft features while adding a contemporary edge.

“We think Lyon House told us how it wanted to look,” Martin said. 

“A good renovation and decor is a reflection more of the house than it is of the people in it. We always wanted to work with the house and let it tell us where it wants to be.”

We spoke to Martin about his love for their new hometown, the passion pieces that fill Lyon House, and the former blacksmith stables they have transformed into a resort-style pool house.Image

Lyon House

What attracted you to Ballarat?

“COVID-19 has accelerated our plans to live in a safe environment in Victoria’s fastest growing city. The city is full of creative talents and minds. We want to be part of the renaissance.

When you first visit Ballarat, you are immediately struck by the grandeur of the place. There are many historical country towns in Australia however none of them capture the true extravagance of the Victorian era like Ballarat. Its incredibly ornate, grand architecture, its beautiful boulevards and Victorian lanes all provide a perfect backdrop for creative artisans and cultural explorers.

On scratching the surface, you start to realise that there is an immense pride and passion in the people here. Ballarat attracts artisans and creatives and there is a sense of ‘can do’ and support here that is missing in larger cities. People here are protective of the past and yet positive for the future. It’s a great place to have a dream and live it.

Our love for Ballarat started with our purchase of Lascelles Terraces back in 2011. Lascelles being a two-storey boom terrace fitted the bill perfectly. The bones of the building were incredibly impressive, however there had been many years of neglect. Lascelles really tugs at your heart strings. We really had a sense that we needed to help this beautiful building and she has rewarded us tenfold. When the terrace next door came up for sale in 2015, we jumped at the opportunity of restoring the buildings as a pair and reuniting them after 129 years.”

What’s the history behind your new boutique holiday home, Lyon House?

“We wanted another renovation project that had scale and opportunity. Lyon House fitted the bill and was purchased in 2016.

Lyon House was originally built in the 1880s as a grand Victorian terrace. In the 1920s, the house received a total renovation which saw the style of the house interpreted as a classic craft style villa. If you look closely, you will see many clues to its Victorian past. Inside the property, we have exposed many of the Victorian features that were hidden under numerous concealments over the years.”

What did the renovation involve?

“Lyon House has the most incredible play of light and dark and we wanted both the renovation and fitout to reflect this. We have restored both Victorian and craft features to the house and insured these act as a backdrop to a more contemporary decor palette. The decor is neutral in tone however very tactile in its finishes.

We have extensively restored panelling and stucco renders which offer a great backdrop to the contemporary decor. The stucco in particular catches the light in such a beautiful way. We have used many local craftsmen for both the build and the decor components of the home.” Image

Lyon House

Take us through the features of Lyon House…

“We wanted the three bathrooms to feel like a forest retreat. The use of the matte dark tiles, stucco, ribbed glass finishes and oak strapping create a perfect backdrop for the verdant green of the internal gardens.

The bedrooms are incredibly large so there was a great opportunity to set each one as its own mini suite. 

The house is full of art from artists such as Heather B Swann and Michael Georgetti.

The kitchen was designed with the entertainer in mind with large double fridges, two ASKO dishwashers, two ASKO ovens and six metres of bench space. The cabinetry of the kitchen and butler’s pantry was handmade from matte black American oak and is complimented with slabs of honed Marquina marble. 

Merging with the kitchen is a 14-seat dining table inspired by Ballarat’s incredible Underbar restaurant.

At the rear of the house is the old blacksmith stables, where we fully restored a pair of amazing 19th-century stained glass arched windows. Inside the stables, we have installed an in-ground heated plunge pool and bar kitchen. The pool house uses the stucco and the colours of the bespoke pool seats were inspired by the stained glass to create a truly resort-style escape.”

Where did you draw inspiration from when dressing the property? 

“The home features many items found on our travels. Most of the art is Australian, with many pieces being from local and national artists.

Furniture and lighting are also crucial in creating ambience and many of the furniture pieces are Australian-made.

The objects and art consist mostly of passion pieces that have been collected from as far away as the flea or antique markets of Paris and as close as the local collectable stores. Like the property, every piece should tell its own unique story. We hope this authenticity resonates with the guest.”Image

Lyon House

And finally, how would you sum up the Lyon House vibe?

“We think Lyon House successfully celebrates the past whilst creating many new and wonderful stories.”

For more information, visit Lyon House’s website, follow the property on Facebook or Instagram, or email


The City of Ballarat acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land we live and work on, the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung People, and recognises their continuing connection to the land and waterways. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend this to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.