The Newcastle home of Jody Robinson and her son Quinn, photographs by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Antique dresser in the dining room. Photographs by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Jody’s home office, artwork by Taryn Raffan. Photographs by Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
We’re having a very nationally balanced week this week…! After yesterday’s post, we’re springing back up to NSW today, with another inspired creative home in the lovely city of Newcastle.
This colour-filled home in the Newcastle’s vibrant suburb of Islington is home to Creative and Performing Arts teacher Jody Robinson and her son Quinn (14), who share their house with much-loved cats Rosie and Andrew (brilliant I cant believe their cat is called Andrew) and 10 huge fish in the courtyard pond.
If, before even reading this text, you guessed this is the home of an artist, 10 points to you! (Was it the paint splatters on the floor?). Jody has been in visual arts education for the past 17 years, she teaches both high school art students and art teachers at the University of Newcastle. Outside of these ‘dayjobs’, she’s nothing short of a multi-tasking creative dynamo, always inventing and executing some amazing exhibition or arts event!
‘I am always happiest when I am crazy busy with a combination of creative side projects’ says Jody. In recent years Jody has created a regional art exhibition to co-incide with Mardi Gras called ‘Connected’, established art workshops called ‘First Class’ at the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery (now in their fourth year), and put on various large scale arts, music and performance events in and around Newcastle. In recent weeks she’s also started an arts event business called The Sound Kitchen with a talented business partner, with the intent of bringing some hybrid arts and music events to the Newcastle cultural calendar! Occasionally inbetween all this inspired creative madness, Jody also finds time to make her own work, in the light-filled studio space at the front of her home.
‘I guess you can say I am immersed in the arts, and my home and what is in it are a direct reflection of my career, my immediate surroundings and the creative people I meet along the way’. Says Jody, adding ‘for the most part the artworks scattered throughout my home are clever friends and acquaintances or local artists’.
Jody bought her house back in 2003 in a very different state to what you see here now. ‘It was tiny’ says Jody – ‘literally a one bedroom cottage, with a peculiar facade of original windows, well worn floor boards with a history of paint splashes, and a bathroom shell yet to be completed. But at the time I was thrilled to bits. My son was only 5 back then so a partitioned room was created using a 1950’s timber medical screen’.
As time passed Jody knew she and Quinn were beginning to outgrow the space, and so began the long search for a new place. Jody recalls ‘when we were house hunting an agent asked my then 12 year old what he was looking in a new house and he replied ‘a bedroom door would be good’!
But the search for a new home inevitably proved fruitless – Jody had become too fond of her local neighbourhood, and when friends bought the house next door, she made the decision to stay put. Major renovations were planned and undertaken in stages – the footprint of the home is almost tripled now, after Jody added a two level extension at the rear of the little cottage.
‘With a small block, the house is literally snuggled between two others, so the renovation was quite a feat and was not too dissimilar from a game of tetris’ says Jody! Of course the goal was to maximise every available inch. Fortunately Jody had a fantastic builder, Michael Dent, who was able to navigate these challenges in truly imaginative ways, creating a home that feels open and spacious, defying its rather small scale.
The renovations were completed around 18 months ago. The cottage now boasts a studio space with amazing natural light, expansive living space, and a large kitchen and dining area where stacking glass doors open onto a tranquil courtyard space. There’s also a walk in pantry and upstairs is a large bedroom, walk in wardrobe and ensuite. A lick of paint on the facade, a bold yellow front door and a new front fence completed the project. ‘And my son finally got his door’ says Jody! ‘A big red one, salvaged from a demolished hospital to fit a strangely wide room opening’.
Of course in addition to the impressive use of space, the real appeal of this brilliantly styled home is Jody’s eclectic collection of art and furniture, amassed over years working in the arts and befriending many creative people! Jody also says that the ‘genuine majority’ of her furniture has been gathered from roadsides and from second hand shops and markets. Her knack for hunting out these salvaged gems came in particularly handy when furnishing the polished new sections of her home, post renovation. ‘My challenge was to give the new renovated part a soul’ says Jody. The injection of quirky pre-loved finds ensured a sense of nostalgia in these shiny new spaces, continuing the contrast of old and new throughout.
MASSIVE thanks to Jody and Quinn for sharing their wonderful home with us today, and once again to Siobhan Curran for facilitating our Newcastle trip and uncovering so many gems (including this house!) for us to feature!