At KWD we have the great pleasure of working on such a wide variety of properties and with so many different clients, from homeowners and renovators to builders and property developers. This year we began a collaboration with Project 718 who recently launched their Mornington Peninsula enterprise with a unique focus on high end builds in sought after locations.
Steve Ditterich and Mark Godek of Project 718 are both Mornington Peninsula locals, and having lived in the area for much of their lives they understand the demographic, the landscape and the community very well and have a real affinity for the area and for its architectural profile. The duo first met when Mark engaged Steve to work on one of his properties installing high-end audio-visual equipment. There was an immediate affinity between them and a joining of like minds.
Explains Steve, “Mark had a real excitement about him, and his enthusiasm is infectious.” Adds Mark, “Steve and I were on a very similar frequency. We are ying and yang. What I lack Steve has in spades and vice-versa. We are very different people and we both have our strengths and weaknesses but we both have the same moral compass, ethics and values.”
Mark’s previous experience was in commercial construction, based in the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand and working primarily with airports, shopping centres and hotel. He explains, “It was important work but there was no passion, no love. As time goes on you realise what the important things are in life and when I met Steve, who was also wanting to move on from his previous business, we talked design, architecture and creating dream homes. So our venture began based on passion and a united desire to build something important that we believe in.”
The premise for Project 718 was for Steve and Mark to find land that they both loved and to design and build homes that they want to build and that they have faith in. No longer following specifications from clients, they are now creating properties to their own specification. “Steve and I both love beautiful homes. Having had experience working on billionaire’s homes we saw how important it is to create a lifestyle for ourselves. And that’s what drives us. The lifestyle, the freedom to do what we want and create what we want. And when we choose a site and design a home, we’re thinking about the lifestyle of the people who will live there.”
Project 718 is driven by finding the right location – one where they personally would love to live and that they are both united on. They only choose a property that they both feel 100% committed to. Then they collaborate with the best possible team – architects, designers, builders, electricians, plumbers, landscape gardens – who help to bring their vision to life.
With an office in Balnarring, their primary property focus is on the blue-chip real estate triangle – Mt Eliza to Portsea to Flinders. Through their years of experience in the area they have seen first-hand the level of interest in the area, particularly with those looking to relocate to the area or to buy their dream holiday home. Says Mark, “Mt Eliza is predominantly a residential area for those who want to downsize and for large family homes. As you move further down the Peninsula towards Portsea you find incredible, luxury holiday homes that Melburnians love to enjoy all year round.”
Project 718’s first project at 80 Rutland Ave in Mt Eliza was actually discovered by Steve’s wife – a double block with the right feel and energy, and the ideal established trees – and the perfect property to kick off their joint venture. The team began building in November 2019 and the property has now just been released for sale.
“The nine month build process was so smooth – from finding the property to the design, development, council approvals, town planning, building permits, construction, landscaping, interior design to styling it and preparing it for photography. The achieve the level of attention to detail and craftsmanship in that time is something we are very proud of,” explains Mark.
“It’s such a liveable floorplan,” adds Steve. “It is the perfect home for downsizers, with an established and very easy to maintain garden. The location is fabulous too, being able to walk to the Ranelagh Club and to the beach, with easy access the Mt Eliza Village. We did extensive research on the area and understood the demographic and designed the ideal house for them. We wanted to create a home that people haven’t seen, that they don’t know they want until they see it. We wanted them to walk into a lifestyle that is perfect for them.”
In terms of the design of the home, Steve knew he wanted to engage Kate Walker and the KWD team. “I had been following Kate on Instagram and I really liked the feel of the homes she was creating. I chatted with Kate for an hour or so on the phone to convey our business model and we knew straight away that we had to work on the project together. We gave Kate open slather in terms of design, and the chances we took with Kate’s design direction have paid off – 100%.” Adds Mark, “Kate’s work is edgy, ballsy, different. Not cookie cutter. Designs that don’t just conform.”
“Steve and Mark are young and enigmatic, and they want to make their mark. What sets them apart from other developers is that they strive for absolute quality. We did push them outside of their comfort zone in terms of spend on design and product, but they trusted the process to the nth degree and took on every single element we recommended. As the project evolved it became acutely apparent that lifting the level of finishes would pay dividends for the end result,” says Kate.
“As we walk around the home we wouldn’t want to change a thing or have any element designed in any other way,” explains Steve. “Kate definitely threw curve balls at us and challenged us with products and pricing. Her design recommendations were so unexpected and different. The colour palette really pushed us out of our comfort zone, particularly when she recommended we paint the whole house black. And now we couldn’t imagine in any other way.”
The materials Kate and the KWD design team specified for the Modern Farmhouse aesthetic help to take the interior to a whole new level by pushing the boundaries in terms of the range of product used. From the tile selection to the colour palette and the layers of textures, to KWD & Co’s chevron flooring which hadn’t been laid in a project before. Says Kate, “The key is that Steve and Mark trust our vision. Working collaboratively for a united outcome resulted in this project being such an outstanding success.”
All of the properties Project 718 create will be released to the market fully furnished. “We want potential buyers to view the property in the way we believe it should be lived in, with a carefully curated collection of furniture that is ideal for the home. A lot of buyers want to be able to walk in and purchase a property as is, with every piece of furniture in it specifically ordered to suit every room in the home. With this turnkey solution the buyer doesn’t have to worry about engaging an interior designer themselves, it’s all been done for them.”
Project 718 is working on three more projects, two in Mt Martha and one more in Mt Eliza, all of which are being designed with Kate. The Mt Eliza property is called Whitehill and is based on a Michigan Lake House concept – a very romantic house with white weatherboards, shingles and exposed beams. It should be on the market around July 2021. “Designing Sable Lodge and Whitehill concurrently has been a real challenge because we had to come up with two distinctly different yet complimentary houses. It was so important that the two properties, whilst they sit side by side, feel like two completely different homes. They borrow from each other architecturally and are both oriented the same way, but the aesthetic is completely different.”
Says Steve, “One of the Mt Martha properties Kate is designing with an aesthetic she describes as ‘Palm Springs on steroids’. It’s a Slim Aarons-inspired design that will delight and surprise in every way and on a whole new level. And the other Mt Martha property is only 300m from the beach, so we are leaning towards a British Colonial/Plantation style home. Exciting times ahead.”
Steve and Mark have clearly identified exactly who the right buyers are for these properties and they are hard at work creating dream homes for them. “We love pulling on heart strings, creating that X factor, that ‘hygge’, that undefinable quality of feeling comfortable, safe and special in a space. It’s important for us to trust our gut instincts and commit to our sense of design and what we want to achieve. We just love what we do, collaborating with awesome people and being excited about what every day brings.”
Sable Lodge, 80 Rutland Ave Mt Eliza is now on the market via Aqua Real Estate.
Styling: Greenhouse Interiors
Photography: Armelle Habib