Australian Homes

Kate Ratner and Michael Tait

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 5th March 2014

KateRatner-chair

The Sydney warehouse apartment of interior designer Kate Ratner and family.  Living space.  ‘That’s Enough’ artwork on wall by Michael Moran.  Black and white chair, a treasured piece given to Kate when she was just 18.  ‘I love the fabric, which is slowly becoming threadbare’ she says.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-living

Living area.  Julia Schauenburg photograph above black leather ottoman. Collection of cushions – some picked up from a props sale from the set of Baz Luhrman’s ‘Australia’ film.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-dining2

Dining room. ‘This dining table was my grandmothers. It’s about 50 years old’ says Kate. ‘We’ve managed to get 14 people around it for a dinner party once!’.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-dining

Dining room. Artwork by Michelle Helene, vintage ladder picked up second hand, wall clock – a Christmas present to Kate from Michael.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-detail

Sweet details in Kate’s living room. ‘Most of the items on the yellow side table belonged to my grandfather’ she explains. ‘His collection of old padlocks are there, a clock, bottles and a fading photo of him and my Grandmother with 2 friends dressed in fancy dress that my Grandmother had made for a roaring 20’s party’.  Carved art work by Aboriginal artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu among the old bottles.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The best rental properties really don’t come along just by looking in the real estate pages. Nope, I’m firmly convinced that the most unique and covetable ones usually require a certain degree of pavement pounding, pro-active detective work, and in this case – serious elbow grease!  But, as you can see by today’s vast and outstandingly photogenic apartment in Sydney’s Alexandria – all that hard work really does pay off!

This unique industrial space belongs to Sydney interior designer Kate Ratner, her partner Michael Tait who works in film distribution, and their four month old bub Elliot.  A ‘warehouse’ apartment in the truest sense of the word, this generous first floor space has been home to Kate and Michael for two years.  Originally, it was discovered by Kate and a friend, Carla Robertson, who were on the look out for a run down warehouse that could be turned into a home. ‘We were excited for the project and the challenge’ recalls Kate – ‘we were both looking for a new way to live’.

When they first found it, the warehouse had been a storage space for 6 years.  ‘It was full of mouldy boxes’ recalls Kate… ‘it really was quite disgusting, but we saw the potential’.  Undeterred by the task ahead, Kate and Carla set about ripping out the decaying kitchenette, rebuilding a larger functional kitchen, painting the interior from top to bottom, and building two bedrooms, both with glass doors to let light and air into the central living space.

‘We injected a hell of a lot of love to bring this space back to life’ says Kate. ‘Unfortunately, or fortunately, Carla only spent 3 months living here as she fell in love with a handsome yank and quickly moved to New York!’.  Two years on, this versatile space is has now been re-imagined as an eclectic family home.

Furnished almost exclusively with vintage and salvaged second hand finds, Kate and Michael’s home is layered with history and nostalgia. ‘I have a lot of precious found objects that I have collected over the years, including many belonging to my grandparents’ says Kate.  ‘My grandmother recently passed away, and we found a huge collection of beautiful rusty things that belonged to my grandfather in her home. One of my favourite things is his collection of old padlocks’.

Both at home and in her own work, Kate is drawn to pieces and spaces that tell a story. ‘I want a space to work emotionally as well as functionally’ she says. ‘Spaces I love are never over designed or too considered. They should be humble and quiet, with attention to detail’. Couldn’t have put it better myself!  Huge thanks to Kate and Michael for sharing their very cool home with us today!

KateRatner-kitchen

Amazing warehouse kitchen!  The kitchen sink unit was a gift from a friend who salvaged it from whilst renovating a bakery. The picture frame is a collection of fishing flys – a gift from Kate to Michael last year.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-sink

Kitchen detail. ‘The windows were one of the main attractions when moving in’ says Kate. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-bedroom

Light filled master bedroom, featuring Tiki the cat. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-kidsdetails

Kate and Michael’s four month old son Elliot alreday has an impressive collection of toys! ‘The twinkle twinkle picture frame in the top right corner was the first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant’ says Kate. The hands drawings top left is an illustration by Katherine Pont.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-bathroom

‘The bathroom is a burst of colour. I like to think of it as a bit Disney inspired’ says Kate! Vintage mirror above the sink previously belonged to Kate’s grandmother. ‘It was her dressing table mirror and reminds me of her every day’ she says.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

KateRatner-books

Michael’s beloved collection of books. ‘I collect everything. He collects books.’ Says Kate. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 5th March 2014

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