The gorgeous Brunswick apartment of graphic designer Suzy Tuxen and design director Shane Loorham. Kitchen – Thonet bentwood chair handed down from Shane’s parents (originally white with an olive vinyl seat, this was stripped and re-painted black with raw timber ‘socks’ by Suzy and Shane – spot on!). Other dining chairs – Aristoc ‘Scape’ chairs by Grant Featherston. ‘These were super generous and unexpected gift from our friends Kitty and Leon of LeSphinx, who had inherited these from Leon’s grandparents’ says Suzy. They have been re-upholstered by local graphic designer turned upholsterer wonder-woman Wendy Ellerton. Yellow bowl on the table by Catherine Holm, yellow vessel in background by Established and Sons, a gift from Suzy’s sister Alana (they’re available from Living Edge). The Bialetti coffee pot collection – all collected by Suzy from Opp-shops. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Kitchen. Thonet bentwood chair handed down from Shane’s parents and re-painted black with raw timber ‘socks’ by Suzy and Shane – spot on! The utensils pot in the background is by melbourne ceramicist Bridget Bodenham. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Living room. Jardan ‘Nook’ sofa in black leather. ‘We had this on our wedding registry!’ says Suzy. ‘We loved the look of vintage sofas but couldn’t find one that was big or comfy enough, and we were so happy to find this sofa! It’s upholstered in black analine leather so it will last 50 years and age well!’. Pendant lamp by Twentieth Century Scandinavia, rug by Loom Rugs, knitted cushions made by Suzy, Jielde yellow floor lamp (carted back from london in Suzy’s suitcase!), hanging geodesic sculpture made by Shane. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Suzy’s Grandmother’s tub chair with cushion knitted by Suzy, Nook sofa by Jardan, Tribalala Wool Blanket by Darkroom London (run by old friends of Suzy and Shane based in London!) in collaboration with Camille Walhala, rug by Loom Rugs, hanging geodesic sculpture made by Shane. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Shane and Suzy in their kitchen. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
I have a theory about graphic designers. They ALWAYS have nice houses. I realise this is massive generalisation, but I do see a lot of houses…! Graphic designers’ homes are usually slightly quirky, interesting spaces, styled with care, and often filled with the work of talented designer and artist friends. More often than not, graphic designers seem to adhere to quite a clear and confident aesthetic when decorating their homes. They’re quite measured and thoughtful about the way they pull different elements together. They tend to invest wisely in classic pieces. And just like the best executed design projects, a graphic designer’s home really is all about the details.
SO what do you get when you find two self confessed ‘graphic design nerds’ under one roof? An insanely photogenic first home, that’s what! This sweet love nest in Brunswick West belongs to super talented Suzy Tuxen of A Friend of Mine, and Shane Loorham, who is design director at Liquorice Studio. They share their two bedroom ground floor unit with their insanely energetic and devishly handsome Samoid dog, Cotton (he doesn’t sit still long enough for photographs I’m afraid – we did try!).
Shane and Suzy bought their flat as first home owners in 2010, moving in at Christmas time that year. Though the unit is part of a 1970’s block, it was quite cleverly renovated by its previous owner, leaving Shane and Suzy to make cosmetic rather than structural changes after moving in.
‘The previous owner did a lot of fantastic renovations to this ’70s unit – ripping out the laundry to open up the kitchen, and exposing the beautiful Tasmanian Oak floorboards’ says Suzy. With little to do inside, Suzy and Shane focussed their first-home-owner DIY enthusiasm on the exterior of their little unit, which was ripe for an update!
‘The flat exterior was originally a really ugly variety of ’70s chocolate brick’ says Suzy, who opted for a deep charcoal / black instead, painting directly over the brown brick facade. ‘We also painstakingly re-tiled the front doorstep in hexagon mosaic tiles with black grout – again this was originally a very ‘special’ brown gradient tile from the ’70s which we weren’t sad to see the back of!’ she recalls. The pair have been keen to try different things out at home, changing certain elements one way and then another to personalise the space. ‘Our front door was a bright green for about a year’ says Suzy.
Clearly, Shane and Suzy have seriously excellent taste, but they also have an admirably disciplined approach when it comes to furnishing their apartment. With only a small space to fill, they’ve chosen to invest in classic, quality items piece by piece, building a beautiful little collection of furniture and art slowly, slowly, when budget permits. They’re the kind of people who fall in love with a specific piece, then plan strategically for a year or more to acquire it! One of their most loved recent investment pieces is the Jardan ‘Nook’ sofa, upholstered in black leather. ‘We had this on our wedding registry!’ says Suzy. ‘We loved the look of vintage sofas but couldn’t find one that was big or comfy enough, and we were so happy to find this sofa! It’s upholstered in black analine leather so it will last 50 years and age well!’.
Of course, other special pieces here are treasured for their sentimental value. ‘Shane gave me a vintage Valentine typewriter five years go when we first met, after noticing that I’d torn a picture of one out of a magazine’ says Suzy. ‘It has got to be the best present I’ve ever received! It now has pride of place on the study wall, although occasionally we have taken it down to type something on it’.
Suzy and Shane have created a special little sanctuary here, and though it’s small, there’s something so comfortable and functional about this sweet little pad. When asked what she loves most about living here, Suzy is quick to respond. ‘We love the kitchen’ she says. ‘It’s big, bright and and a really nice space to eat and have people around for dinner. We lived in London for a while, with a kitchen in a cupboard – the increase in size is welcome!’. Another major plus for both Suzy and Shane is the area. ‘Brunswick West is great, we have super lovely neighbours, all up for a chat, and they all have amazing gardens laden with fruit and produce, which they often generously share’ says Suzy. Go Brunswick!
Huge thanks to Suzy and Shane for sharing their home with us today. Aside from running her brilliant design studio, A Friend of Mine, Suzy is also one half of Significant Others – a carefully edited online shop she runs with friend and creative collaborator Ryan Ward of United Measures. Well worth a little look if you love Suzy’s style!