Australian Homes

Alice and Lucy Oehr

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 9th April 2014

AliceO-kitchenthrubathroom

The colourful Abbotsford home of sisters Lucy and  Alice Oehr.  Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-kitchen

Alice and Lucy’s cottage kitchen! Painting above mantle by Jane Oehr (Lucy and Alice’s auntie), hanging meat doll by Nathalie L’ete from Ganim Store, various crockery from Ganim Store and Third Drawer Down and vintage.   Olimpia Zagnoli plate behind coffee grinder. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-lounge

Living room.  Kidney-shaped table from Ebay, Alice Oehr printed cushions, paper tiger head by French brand Petit Pan purchased from Ganim Store, faceted ceramic planter on table by Beneath the Sun. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-loungefireplace

Living room detail.  Artwork above fireplace (cropped) by Keiichi Tanaami, doll cushion by Nathalie L’ete from Ganim Store, cat & pot plant in fireplace, both from Alice and Lucy’s grandma, glass dish on table is Iittala.  Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-portrait

Alice (left) and Lucy (right) at their kitchen dining table. Artworks above by Alice Oehr, Marc Martin, Beci Orpin, Jane Oehr (Alice and Lucy’s auntie), enamel fruit bowl on table from Third Drawer Down. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

After last week’s spectacular sprawling family home in Monbulk, today we’re back in the gritty backstreets of Melbourne’s inner North, with a sweet Abbotsford cottage that has been lovingly renovated by two hardworking sisters.  This quaint, colourful little pad is home to graphic designer / illustrator Alice Oehr and her sister, Lucy, who is completing her Masters in neuropsychology at Melbourne Uni.

Alice is 25 and Lucy is 23.  They rent their home from their parents, who originally purchased the two bedroom property in late 2011, after discovering it by chance one day on an afternoon walk. ‘They convinced us to overlook its’ overwhelmingly derelict appearance, and after not much competition from other bidders, we were able to embrace its ‘potential’ and begin the renovation’ says Alice.  Seems like a sweet deal for Mum and Dad Oehr, because these girls have worked SO HARD to turn a dilapidated shell of a house into a cheerful little home!  Parents can be sneaky like that sometimes.

‘Our poor home was in a bit of a sorry state when we first came across it’ recalls Alice. Luckily, uni had just concluded for the summer at the time the property settled, so Lucy and Alice had three whole months up their sleeves to spend in Hard Yakka overalls, doing the hard yakka required to bring their future home to a liveable standard.  ‘We spent 8.00am – 6.00pm (almost) every day that summer giving it a major overhaul’ says Alice.  Amongst other things, this involved removing plasterboard with a crowbar, sugar soaping tobacco stained walls, replacing rotten floors and weatherboards, demolishing random unsightly outhouses in the concrete backyard, re-building walls and ceilings from scratch, and painting throughout. A carpenter friend was called in to rebuild a new floor in the kitchen and to move the toilet from the outhouse into the bathroom. All this and more is well documented in an amazing blog the girls made about the whole experience – scroll back to Day 1 for maximum effect (not for the faint hearted!).

With the help of friends and family, Alice and Lucy slowly but surely turned their home around.  It’s pretty incredible just how much this industrous pair (plus a steady stream of handy assistants!) managed to achieve in just three months that summer. By January 2012, Alice and Lucy had laid out their favourite black and white checkerboard lino in the kitchen and bathroom, re-tiled the bathroom and installed a brand new kitchen.  In early February, Alice painted the front door a carefully selected shade of deep forest green, whilst their Mum proudly hung handmade curtains in both bedrooms.  In late February, finally, it was time to move in!

After the intense elbow grease required to renovate their home, since moving in, Alice and Lucy have taken great delight in personalising the space with art, trinkets and accessories made by clever creative friends, or picked up on their travels.  ‘The word ‘cluttered’ comes to mind, but of course it could also be called ‘eclectic’ ‘ says Alice.  The house is filled with Alice’s paintings, printed cushions and illustrations.  For a future neuropsychologist (!!), Lucy is also very creative, and loves restoring old furniture. ‘The hoarding and collecting gene runs deep into the family, so there are so many pieces collected and inherited that have quite a lot of sentimental value’ says Alice.

Despite their immense efforts to stamp out the scungy former life of their house, there are also a couple of original elements the pair have fought hard to retain.  One surprising favourite feature which they were adamant about salvaging was the green enamel bath. ‘When we first met it, it was filled with old nails and needles, and after having convinced our carpenter that ‘no, we will not be chucking that one out’, and with a hell of a lot of scrubbing, it is now a nice reminder of the house’s past life’ says Alice. She and Lucy are also very fond of the exposed brick walls, which give the kitchen and bathroom so much character.

It’s clear just how much love has been poured into this project, and after their incredible renovation efforts, the joy of playing ‘house’ has still not worn off for Alice and Lucy. ‘Having worked so hard on it ourselves, there’s a whole extra layer of satisfaction about hanging out here’ explains Alice. The house has become a great space for entertaining friends, ‘and let’s be honest – for displaying all the stuff we’ve both been collecting since we were teenagers’ says Alice.

Amazingly, despite undertaking a major renovation together, and now sharing a home, Alice and Lucy still really love living together. ‘Lucy and I have obviously lived together growing up, then a couple of years apart, and now we are able to live together pretty comfortably knowing our differences’.  Whilst they have very different career paths, and a few polar opposite personality traits (neat vs messy..!) for the most part, Alice says it works out surprisingly well.  ‘We both work quite hard and love cooking and entertaining, so that makes home a good place to be.  After running around all week with our various jobs and activities, it’s nice to spend whatever time we can relaxing here’.

LOVE YOUR WORK LADIES, what a shining example of hard work, and sisterly co-operation!

 

AliceO-loungeroomdetail

Loungeroom details.  Alice Oehr‘s ‘Lady Potato head’ created for a potato head exhibition at Ganim Store in Melbourne last year!  Still life print behind also by Alice, Andy Rementer ‘People Blocks’ sculpture, Sarah Crowest ‘Mounds’ from Third Drawer Down, seahorse and fruit bowl both from Ganim Store, Vintage French teaching poster ‘Les Reptiles’. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-DiningDetail

Kitchen table detail.  Artwork by Marc Martin, enamel fruit bowl on table from Third Drawer Down. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-AliceDesk

Alice’s bedroom and workspace.  Vintage dinosaurs poster from Galerie Montmartre, curtains made from Ikea fabric (made by Alice and Lucy’s Mum!), desk made from recycled floorboards by Alice and her Dad. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-drawing

Alice at her desk.  Curtains made by Alice’s Mum from Ikea fabric, green Dale Hardiman bowl, cups from the Mod Collective, Ikea lamp. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-AliceBed

Alice’s bedroom details.  Cockatoo lamp by Studio Australia, bedlinen by Wooden Hills Bedding Co from Third Drawer Down, Yoshimoto Nara ashtray, textile on wall is from Guatemala. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-Lucy'sDesk

Lucy’s desk.  Vintage heart poster from a market in France, old phrenology heads are market finds, the ‘Visible Man’ model, lamp from Modern History in Richmond, curtains are Ikea fabric again made by Lucy and Alice’s Mum,  chair is a Kai Kristiansen No 42 Ebay find.  Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-LucyRoom

Lucy’s bedroom.  Galah lamp by Studio Australia, Quilt from Cottage Industry, heart pillowcase by Alice Oehr, ‘Gitanes’ print from Galerie Montmartre, Chest of drawers is vintage Kai Kristiansen, planter from Camberwell market, vintage mirror, Bitossi vase (another Ebay find) and trinkets from Grandma!  Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-LucyDoor

Details from Lucy’s bedroom.  Vintage kimono from Japan, bags by Alice Oehr and Jen Booth, taxidermied rainbow lorikeet on right hand wall. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

AliceO-bathroom

Bathroom details.  Mirror – a frame from Ikea customised with mirror fitting behind, vintage fans from Japan, owl jug from Grandma Oehr, frog in bath from Camberwell market, BaRbaPapa toothbrush holder from Japan. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy / The Design Files.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 9th April 2014

40 comments

  • Cathg1g2 2 years ago

    Absolutely delightful
    Go girls!

  • jaye 2 years ago

    I’ve just spent 45 spellbound minutes reading the renovation blog and studying the photos, and I must say that these two girls and their entire support team are quite amazing! This home is a genuine labour of love…starting with the parents who purchased the house and believed that their daughters would meet the challenge. It is so refreshing to see this gorgeous little cottage which has re-evolved from the mountains of grunge and grot, and on a very tight budget too. It is quirky and engaging because it completely lacks any veneer of pretentiousness, or trendiness, or sameness. Being able to see the work in progress via the blog, significantly enhances Lucy’s lovely post today, and I urge all readers to have a sneak peek too. Otherwise, you’ll never get to see the most gorgeous owl, and you’ll miss out on a wonderful example of family love, loyalty and devotion.

  • Cara 2 years ago

    Seriously impressive! For the hardened tradie that place would have been a challenge and there’s no way a tradie could have made it that cute either!! Love it!!

  • Marilyn Schroeder 2 years ago

    Impressive! Loved reading the renovation blog. I know Park Street. Brother & sister law achieved similar success some years ago in their (now sold – no. 56) Park Street home.

  • Lauren Lou Bate 2 years ago

    Oh, I can’t believe how young they are. I feel so old and under accomplished right now! I would have loved spending my twenties in this house!! They are so beautifully creative. Thank you for sharing their home. Bisous xx

  • sarah 2 years ago

    Brilliant! So refreshing to see a home with personality and ‘stuff ‘. I just love it!

  • Absolutely amazing transformation! One of my favourite homes to see what you’ve accomplished yourselves… I loved reading your blog about the rennovations, so inspiring! Look forward to seeing you on “The Block” soon. Well done girls!

  • Imogen 2 years ago

    such an amazing house and renovation!

  • Emma 2 years ago

    HANDS DOWN best house EVER!

  • Jacqueline 2 years ago

    Such an amazingly adorable space, full of wit & soul! And what a HUGE transformation from Day 1 (on their blog), I’m speechless and in awe! Thanks for sharing!

  • emily 2 years ago

    So lovely! (Lovely ladies too!)

    And I wish I could show their blog to every single person who is in the process of knocking down perfectly good houses in order to build new mammoth monstrosities (our future next door neighbours for example)! A bit of imagination and hard work goes a long way.

  • Jo Foster 2 years ago

    Oh my goodness, how to two so young own so much cool stuff? LOVE this house, it’s eclectic feel, about go go read the blog….

  • Hannah 2 years ago

    I LOVE this home. And popping over to the blog to see all the hard work that went behind it, well, I am BLOWN AWAY! Incredible.

  • alison 2 years ago

    Wow Wow Wow! I’ve started reading their blog and I’m hooked! What an inspiration. Can’t wait to get my own place soon and do something similar. All that hard work absolutely pays off!

  • Min 2 years ago

    So beautiful! And I just love reading about creative people who may not have a particularly creative day job!

  • Emma 2 years ago

    What generous parents… I doubt my parents would have trusted me with a house in my early 20s! Lucky girls.

  • Lauren 2 years ago

    So excellent! I would never have known or appreciated the work behind it had I not seen their blog just now. So determined and successful, what a team effort. Impressed.

  • Anna McGregor 2 years ago

    Great to see a home put together with hard work and creativity, not wads of cash. Well done ladies it’s a treat for the eyes

  • Engracia 2 years ago

    Just brilliant! TDF you make every Wednesday morning a joy for me.

  • Charlie 2 years ago

    I think this is one of the most interesting homes featured! The transformation of the house is incredible and I loved seeing all the photos of them hard at work on the blog. Great find TDF! And great house Alice and Lucy!

  • Emily 2 years ago

    This home is delicious! I can’t get enough of it. I absolutely love the personality and vibrancy and sense of vive. And the hard work that went into making it what it is makes it more the special. It has to be my favourite home tour ever. Bang. Thanks so much for sharing Lucy!

  • Selena 2 years ago

    This is amazing! =) I really love it! I had no doubt that a girl full of fantasy like you would make such a great job, Lucy! I’m looking foroward to seeing you again and to meeting your sister, too!
    All the best!

  • Jenny 2 years ago

    Many thanks for sharing your lovely home and treasures, Alice and Lucy. The blog documenting the ‘massive transformation’ (something of an understatement) with your parents and friends was very inspiring! One of my favourite pictures from the blog was of the pair of Tawny Frogmouths, precious. Thank you TDF.

  • YC 2 years ago

    Lovely lovely home! So cute! :)
    Just a few corrections about Japanese goods – the “vintage kimono” isn’t a kimono, it’s called a juban, an underwear you wear underneath the kimono.
    The “vintage fans” aren’t fans, they are called hagoita – paddle to play a game similar to badminton.
    So happy that you have so many Japanese things!

  • Natalie 2 years ago

    So ace… I love it… just had a peek at the first blog entry… no wonder there weren’t too many other bidders… that is some tobacco staining (let alone everything else)… congratulations to you both

  • Katharina 2 years ago

    wow, girls you did a great job!
    highfive for that!
    I’m in the middle of a huge renovation myself and started also a blog about this so I know what you’re talking about (luckily our former house-owners have been non-smokers!)
    The before and after is amazing!
    Well done and thank you Lucy for sharing and encouraging young DIY-renovators like me! ♥
    Katharina

  • whitney 2 years ago

    the girls are great — but I want to know Grandma!!! Any woman with that much kitsch must’ve been a treasure herself.

  • Caroline 2 years ago

    Well done girls! AMAZING transformation and a credit to you for doing the majority of the work yourselves. Love following home reno blogs – wish I had known about your blog when you first started out. I too love Wednesday’s on TDF – so much goodness. xx

  • Amanda 2 years ago

    Well done to Lucy and Alice – how proud and happy you must feel, you’re a pair of go-getters!

  • Kristin Nicholas 2 years ago

    Do love this creative place and all the color and handmade touches. Beautiful.

  • Clare 2 years ago

    I too just read (skimmed) the whole darn blog. Having done some mild reno work myself, I know how much hard work that was. Incredible!

    About the bones found under the floor: I remember reading an article on the ABC news website a while ago, I think, about a researcher whose work was on the fact that some colonial settlers put dead domestic animals (cats n’ stuff) under the floors of new houses to ward off evil spirits. But now I can’t for the life of me find the article.

  • Alvin Chia 2 years ago

    A great display of assured personal style. Nothing pretentious or overly trendy, just doing their own thing. This is a rare gem of a house. Really well done.

  • Maya @ House Nerd 2 years ago

    Oh my goodness! Just skipped over to the blog – those are some of the WORST before photos I have seen. I am in awe. Well done Lucy and Alice, and Mum and Dad. And I love your unaffected, ‘this is who we are and what we love’ style. One of my all-time favourite TDF houses.

  • I am in love with the brick interior walls!

  • Penny 2 years ago

    The before pictures on their blog are INSANE. And the house is so very sweet + lovely now. Amazing renovation.

  • ali 2 years ago

    Beautiful space!

  • kisisc 2 years ago

    I just read the whole blog. I loved it, the house transformation was amazing & making me feel slightly ashamed of the little I’ve done to my place. Mum & Dad Oehr wanna come help out at our place now?? :) such an eclectic & interesting house.

  • Gaz 2 years ago

    Sweet!

  • Patty 2 years ago

    Following your blog I was in awe of your hard work. The end result is fantastic. Blessings to you.

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