Australian Homes

Stephen and Helena Trupp

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 4th April 2012

Melbourne’s Trupp family have the sweetest vintage-inspired apartment in Ripponlea.  Top  – 2 yr old Odessa’s room, featuring the best vintage sign EVER!?

The sweet retro-inspired kitchen / dining space of Melbourne’s Trupp family

Retro-inspired kitchen

Ok so it was a little tricky coming up with the perfect home to share for KIDS WEEK… because, you know, as far as I know most kids live with adults.  But SOME adults do have an enviably whimsical, frivolous and fun decorating style…  and that is certainly true of Melbourne’s Trupp Family!

Helena and Stephen Trupp live in this generous 3 bedroom period apartment in Melbourne’s Ripponlea, with 2 year old Odessa a a handful of budgies. (actually the budgies are out the back don’t worry).

If Stephen’s name sounds familiar that’s because Mr Trupp made his decorating debut on Channel 9’s ‘Top Design‘ last year.  He was a well loved character and came second in the end – so close to winning!  Whilst the show didn’t bring him fame and fortune, it did give Stephen the confidence he needed to follow his passion.  When the show ended, he decided to leave his career in Youth Work and focus fulltime on the business he runs with Helena – Empirical Style.

Together Helena and Steve source and sell a seriously impressive collection of vintage and vintage-inspired products including maps, wall charts, industrial lights and subway signs (reproduced under license from the MTA New York).  There’s also a super sweet collection for kids!  At present they sell online but they’re always being asked whether they’ll open a bricks and mortar store…!  For now the answer is ‘maybe, maybe not!’

It’s hard to believe Steve, Helena and Odessa have been here only a year and a half after relocating from Sydney.  The place already really looks and feels so homely.  ‘The beauty of this home is the 1930’s have set such a classic palette’ says Helena,  who says she and Steve were really inspired by the vintage features of their new home.  Of course Helena and Steve’s signature look was the perfect styling approach for this space – the vintage maps, neon signage and fabulous retro inspired kitchen details are so on the money!

Whilst they don’t own this house, Helena and Steve have poured a lot of love and elbow grease into this home – I was particularly impressed with the utensil hanging rails in the kitchen – they’re from IKEA, but painted peppermint green!  Ingenious – they look 100% vintage!  Who would have thought.

One favourite item for Helena (and one of the reasons this home seemed so perfect for KIDS WEEK!) is the incredible oversized ‘The Shop’ vintage sign in Odessa’s room, pictured below. This unique piece was purchased during the Trupp family adventures through ‘The worlds longest yard sale’ in the USA last year. AMAZING!  Now THAT would make a good TV show.  ‘The Trupp Family USA Yard Sale Adventures’.  I would totally watch that.

Massive thanks to Helena, Stephen and Odessa for sharing their fabulous family home with us today!  If you love their style you will DEFINITELY love their shop… do pop over to Empirical Style. and have a little fossick.  I am seriously coveting that ‘Peppermint Crisp’ cage lights – minty green with black and white flex!  Delicious.

Odessa’s room detail

Odessa’s room details

Lounge room featuring Empirical Style cage lights

Lounge reverse.  ‘The neon sign in the lounge is steve’s hand writing. He had it custom made as a present to himself after Top Design’ says Helena.

Loungeroom details

Loungeroom details – subway sign from Empirical Style

Trupp Family Value Store!  Custom vintage style decals applied to an antique wardrobe.

Master bedroom – cage light and Charley Harper prints available from Empirical Style

Bedroom details – cage light and Charley Harper prints available from Empirical Style


Empirical Style HQ (aka the front room!).  ‘The Black bookshelves and the sideboard were rescued from the tip, painted black and now are full of exotic treasures we’ve collected over the years’ says Helena.

Eclectic finds in the Empirical Style office

Apartment exterior

The perfect powder yellow VW van!

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 4th April 2012


  • Zoe 5 years ago

    I’m amazed at the hard work and effort they have put into a property they don’t own! It looks lovely and I hope they get the full benefit of this. Really enjoyed the look in on this household in your post! Many thanks. If I were not working so hard launching my new business I’d be doing the same to our house!

  • Wendy 5 years ago

    I loved Top Design and wondered why it didn’t continue… towards the end of the show, they also put it to a late night slot. So great to see The Trump’s house … I love it … Steven was so inspiring in the show. The shop looks great too. There are so many amazing designers here in Aus. Thanks for featuring them on your blogg as always!

  • Lisa 5 years ago

    Can anybody confirm where those fabulous geometric cushions on the leather couch are from? Love them!

  • dustjacket 5 years ago

    What great natural style, so fun and fresh. The vintage sign is the best!

  • Jas 5 years ago

    I didn’t watch all of top design last year, but I to remember Stephen. Marvellous home. Seriously love the vintage signs and lighting. Hello new favourite online store!

  • Penny 5 years ago

    Love it! Seriously Lucy, you get the BEST homes for TDF! I absolutely loved Stephen on Top Design also, I really enjoyed that show!

  • Robyn 5 years ago

    I love truppville!

  • Helena 5 years ago

    Thank you everyone for your lovely comments! I can certainly say that Lucy works so hard to find the most inspiring environments. Lisa- the cushions are from Kas Australia.

  • Sarah 5 years ago

    Love your style!

  • Fox and Beau 5 years ago

    Absolutely gorgeous! LOVE this place!

  • margie 5 years ago

    Yes, nice job! I have only JUST been sourcing cage guards to make some light fittings this week! Snap! I’ve found them a bit hard to find in Australia so far…
    Those cushions on the bed look like they’re from Cottage Industry… super deluxe!

  • Monica 5 years ago

    It certainly is never too late to follow your passion!!!! Beautiful home!!

  • JoanieO 5 years ago

    Love all the original timber work – and how the design from renters can work around it!

  • Louisa 5 years ago

    I’m so excited to see a home in my suburb featured! And what a cool one. Definitely getting some ideas for my little one’s room from here.

  • Nat Power 5 years ago

    it’s not just that they have an incredible style with their home but Stephen and Helena are also really sweet to be around and welcome strangers into their lives as if they are of their own ilk. I miss collecting my vegie box from CERES from their apartment but will always be happy to see them walking down the street to stop for a chat. This is a great post to really celebrate the art of vintage style. Go Empircal.

  • Rachel 5 years ago

    Wow. I just had a look at empirical style website and I am thrilled to have found coloured fabric electrical cord in so many colours.
    Thank you and lovely house!

  • Sam 5 years ago

    Oh I am so glad to see this post today – I too have been searching for coloured electrical cord. Thanks Lucy, Stephen and Helena!

  • Kate Dickson-Battye 5 years ago

    Vintage Signs, mint green & Charley Harper. Three of my favourite things. When can I move in?

  • msd 5 years ago

    I love Art Deco era flats, they have such great bones – picture rails, woodwork, high ceilings. All the signs are awesome but seeing the neon sign reflected in the glass coffee table is particularly fabulous! Oh and the Spilt Enz covers and the green and red highlights in the kitchen … I could go on. Nice work.

  • Darren Butt 5 years ago

    Hello i am Darren Butt

    I enjoy reading your articles

    I am looking forward to read more..

  • elissa c 5 years ago

    I love this place! I hope they don’t use those vintage fans…they make me nervous with little fingers around.

  • Clare 5 years ago

    Sooooo loving those cage lights! Going to be saving my pennies to get those for the bedside… and my study… and maybe the loungeroom… Love that they can just be plugged in, rather than wired into the ceiling, and then go anywhere! Awesome in our little house that doesn’t have room for standard lamps.

  • Jillian Elizabeth 5 years ago

    Those cage lights are amazing!

  • look see 5 years ago

    So many great things here! Love it! :)

  • Natalie 4 years ago

    Can you please tell me where you had the neon sign made???

  • Linda 3 years ago

    They may have a nice home, but his business was terrible to deal with! They messed up my order twice and were very rude and reluctant to rectify the issue. I would never deal with this business again!!

  • bec 3 years ago

    wow this amazing. i love every room and its soo nice, good job

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