Australian Homes

Alex Kennedy

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 13th August 2014

TDF carlton1023

The teeny tiny Melbourne home of Alex Kennedy.  Lounge room with day bed, featuring Beneath The Sun patchwork cushion and stripes plate, and Connor O’Brien print. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton1039

Danish dining table and chairs in central dining area. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton1048

We don’t often lead with a bathroom shot BUT bathrooms are rarely this photogenic (and, are rarely found in a lounge room).  Clawfoot bath and exposed shower head. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton0965

Alex Kennedy at home. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

OH MY.  This one, my friends, is SO GOOD.  I know you’re gonna LOVE IT.

Welcome to the tiniest home we have ever featured, the self contained Carlton studio apartment of Alex Kennedy, who works in international development.  Despite having serious left brain leanings (she studied Behavioural Science, with majors in Neuropsychology and Anthropology), Alex is also very creative, and has always been surrounded by a posse of talented creative friends and colleagues.  One such friend is the clever local interior architect Sarah Trotter of Hearth Studio, who designed Alex’s beautiful little home within what was previously a double garage!  (I must admit I didn’t measure it… but I’d estimate that we’re looking at a footprint of approximately 6×6 metres!).

The site, in fact, is the garage of Alex’s childhood home. ‘After realising I couldn’t afford to buy a house, I decided to renovate the old garage’ Alex says, matter of factly. ‘My family home was built by Merchant Builders in the ’80s, and the original garage had many of Merchant Builders signature features which I kept – including the oregon beams and sandbagged brick walls’.

Alex’s challenge was to turn this cold, run down garage into a comfortable little home, on a super tight budget. It meant demolishing the whole garden-side wall, replacing the roof, and installing plumbing and running electricity to the site. Alex’s architect Sarah Trotter of Hearth Studio (who we will learn more about very soon!) was not fussed by the limitations of this tiny footprint or indeed, the budget, instead seizing the opportunity to create a unique home for her friend.  ‘Sarah was incredible at capturing my aesthetic influences and considering light’ says Alex. The pair worked together for a over a year scouring Ebay, visiting recycling centres and demolition yards in outer suburbs and country towns to collect and hunt down all the fittings, almost all of which are second hand.

The build itself was completed by local builder and cabinetmaker Scott McCormack.  ‘He loves doing interesting things with wood and that’s why I wanted to work with him’ says Alex, who worked alongside Scott as a labourer during the build! ‘He would set me up to do jobs over the weekend. I learnt a lot working alongside Scott’. Alex’s friends also lent their muscle where required, helping out with demolition, painting and staining, and often just hanging out with Alex to keep her company on some of the long tiring days. ‘I was really lucky to have so many people happy to help out’ Alex says.

Alex home has been a labour of love, inspired by many factors.  After spending some time in a commune in New Zealand, where she was introduced to the hand made houses movement of the 1970’s, Alex knew she wanted to build something that utilised space and recycled materials in creative ways. She was also heavily influenced by Japanese and Swedish design. ‘After traveling to Japan, I knew I could create a home here’ she says, intuitively understanding that a connection to the garden, and careful consideration of light and texture would be paramount in the design of her home.

Japanese influences are also very clear in the way Alex has decorated her home.  This is evident in the use of various timbers, from recycled floorboards to raw plywood on the ceiling, and the presence of lush indoor plants which give the space a distinct sense of calm.  Every detail has been considered, from the space saving lab-style kitchen sink, right down to the sweet leather handles on the kitchen cabinetry.  Alex loves her collection of artwork and prints on the wall, and is especially fond of a naive picture of a boat picked up second hand.  ‘It’s kind of wild and calm all at the same time’ she explains… ‘I got it from an adorable old man in Richmond, he is one of those guys that have all sorts of trinkets and bits and pieces displayed in the window of his sometime shop and most of the time home. I asked him if he drew it, and he got all funny. A couple a weeks later I walked past and there were lots of different versions of the same picture. He must have been on to something!’.

Aside from her very grown up day job, Alex nourishes her creative side with a number of inspired side projects.  She currently sub edits a bi-annual art and fashion magazine called Doingbird, and she is also currently working on a series of short stories, which she hopes to have published later this year.

HUGE THANKS To Alex (and to Sarah Trotter) for sharing this very special Melbourne home with us today.  What an absolute gem!


TDF carlton0999

Kitchen with Japanese tiled splash back and Marloe Morgan ceramics. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton1013

Kitchen bench with recycled science lab sink and tap. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton1070

Sleeping quarters. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton1085

Two way bathroom bench with handmade leather cupboard tabs. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton1094

A sweet edit of trinkets and homewares sitting on a Tressel Table co. screwless shelf in Alex’s lounge room. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

TDF carlton1099

View from Alex’ little bungalow to the garden she shares with her Mother.  Boucherouite rug and vintage moon light. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 13th August 2014


  • Mary Anne 2 years ago

    Function, creativity, style and integrity at its best! I love how TDF show a variety of abodes! xx

  • honeysuckle 2 years ago

    now this be really creative and lovely!Note the absence of big budget and susequent statement pieces.. resourceful and clever..aesthetic abounds here!

  • jj 2 years ago

    Love it!!

  • Amber 2 years ago

    I absolutely ADORE this home!!!!!! So good Alex.

  • Kathy Joyce 2 years ago

    The quality of joinery and beautifully resolved floor plan is simply breath taking! I believe that the more compact the project is the more consideration is required to come up with a good solution. Great job.

  • Janet 2 years ago

    What a wonderful start to my day. Every aspect is thoughtful, calming and artistic.
    Thanks for sharing your home and garden. People like you make the world smile.

  • Kathryn 2 years ago

    Love everything about this. What a fabulous idea to covert a garage into such a stylish home. Watch out for your garages parents of Melbourne.

  • Susie 2 years ago

    Wow , this is house heaven a tiny house with massive soul

  • Helen Edwards 2 years ago

    so damn cute!! Love the recycled science sink as a nod to the scientist part!

  • Christina 2 years ago

    So peaceful and warm. This little home is so cleverly done, and my fave post on your blog…ever. Ps where are those leather cabinet tabs from?

  • Tara 2 years ago

    Be still my beating heart. Thank you. This is divine.

  • Natalie 2 years ago

    love it love it love it….we are hoping to do something similar in the future…

  • Jasmine 2 years ago

    what a gorgeous little home. As someone who currently lives in a 48sqm apartment I cna understand the value and multiple uses of a space. Love the use of recycled timbers & fixtures, oh, and the the gorgeous light that filters through. Also I see fire pits happening on those pebbles in the backyard…

  • Emma Rickards 2 years ago

    One of my absolute favourite TDF homes – simple, clever, calm, functional, humble, sophisticated and oh so beautiful.

  • jane reiseger 2 years ago

    So inspiring.looks amazing

  • Kylie 2 years ago

    You’re right Lucy – Alex’s home is so good and I do love it!

  • Natalie McComas 2 years ago

    This is so brilliant !!

  • Ali 2 years ago

    I love small spaces and this one looks particularly special. What an amazing job this clever team has done! Especially love those leather door handles. A very beautiful home!

  • Diane Ferree 2 years ago

    Are Australians simply the hippest, most stylish, design savy people on the planet…??? This blog certainly makes me think so.

  • Barbara 2 years ago

    Oh wow. Yes, indeed I Love it!!

  • Dannielle 2 years ago

    What a stunning home! I love the use of space!

  • Jacqui 2 years ago

    Aww that bathroom!!!!!

  • Jonathan Ong 2 years ago

    What a lovely use of a small space!

  • Cebec 2 years ago

    Yes! I love it when small spaces feature!! Having sadly just moved out of my own 24m2 studio I love seeing what other people can do with tiny spaces, and hope that this inspires other people to think small :-)

  • Meaghan 2 years ago

    Gosh this is brilliant. Living and working in a small space I absolutely believe that parameters are the springboard for creativity. This is beautiful: elegant, modest, functional. Well done to everyone involved and the foresight of Alex. And Merchant brothers… Yes.

  • Alice 2 years ago

    So lovely.. And I’m obsessed with that mirror – I’ve been looking for a jumbo round one just like that. Does anyone know where it’s from?

  • Suzanne 2 years ago

    So clever and so creative. Amazing job Alex and Sarah. Love it!

  • Suzy 2 years ago

    What an amazing post! Love the place. x

  • Lisa 2 years ago

    Very inspiring. What a clever team. Any clues to the source of the rugs?

  • Sarah 2 years ago

    Thanks so much for the kind words.
    In terms of suppliers for the mirror, rugs, light fittings and all fixtures and fittings they really were sourced from eBay, Gumtree and auction houses!
    The leather pulls Alex made herself from leather strap bought from Lefflers in West Melbourne.

  • kate 2 years ago

    Do you know the maker of the backsplash in kitchen?

  • TessMaree 2 years ago

    Absolutely adorable! Has made me realise I may still be able to afford the property market AND have a cutesy home x

  • Dan Mase 2 years ago

    Beautiful little home! Excellent use of modest space – very creative!

  • Peebs 2 years ago

    This is so inspiring!!

  • Cheryl 2 years ago

    Best lady-house, ever.

    You know, I know that you don’t usually show them but I have found myself scrolling back and forth trying to work this out – where’s the toilet? Is it down the bit where the ice-cream cone is?

  • Britt 2 years ago

    I love this space! So so clever !!

  • Jeanne 2 years ago

    so gorgeous!! small and perfectly formed :)

  • Annie C 2 years ago

    Such a lovely space, small in size but comfortable and uncluttered. I especially love the hardwood bench/table in the kitchen. Beautiful work, congratulations!

  • Emily 2 years ago


  • jen 2 years ago

    Absolutely fabulous!!!! I really do love this place. How clever :) Adore the leather cupboard tabs, big circular mirror and kitchen taps!!! Brilliant job

  • Chan 2 years ago

    Beautiful and so very inspiring!

  • Kirsty 2 years ago

    Amaaaaaazingness!!!!! x

  • Lucy Chen 2 years ago

    OH I LOVE timber !

  • Shelf question 2 years ago

    Congratulations on creating such a warm and happy cubby-home. It is spectacular.

    I went to follow up the Tressle Table shelves but couldn’t find them on the website. Were these custom made or are they going to be available in the future?


  • Marsha 2 years ago

    So stunning Lucy x

  • amanda 2 years ago

    this is such a fantastic read. i LOVE that is about using a small space to give a big feel. So clever. And I love that the home looks slick and beautiful yet lived in and loved.

  • Lorna Bartholomew 2 years ago

    Just beautiful Alex

  • Lorna Bartholomew 2 years ago

    Just beautiful. Congratulations.

  • Dorothy 2 years ago

    You did an amazing job! The home looks really cosy and comfortable. I really like how it’s modern and classic all at the same time. And the kitchen looks amazing!

  • kirra 2 years ago

    SO AMAZING!!!!!

  • Nina 2 years ago

    This home has bought joy to my day and given me inspirations for my future DIY renovation. Well done you should be very proud.

  • Suzie Wiley 2 years ago

    This is a true delight! Such wonderful nesting in a space. I was wondering if the girls would open source the floor plan? There’s a big moving up in brissy to convert garages and I’d love to share it on.

  • Mike 2 years ago

    Just stunning. Really, really impressed with this. Every single aspect, just delightful.

  • Christina 2 years ago

    Thanks for letting me know that she made those leather pulls. She is so clever! She should sell them…I would buy some for sure.

  • Erica 2 years ago

    This is now one of my top five all-time of your home tours. Thank you for sharing. I love the humble story behind it, too.

  • Marmalade 2 years ago

    Oh my. I saw the bathroom and started singing tra la la la la internally. Earlier comments say it best… be still my beating heart… it’s places like this that make the world smile… such a warm and happy cubby house.

  • Michelle Clark 2 years ago

    How Pleasant! MC

  • Michelle Hill 2 years ago

    I love everything about this home. I am about to move into a tiny apartment and am looking for a dining table just like this one. Can you please tell me where it’s from?

  • kaboodle kitchen 2 years ago

    What a great design. We love the leather handles and Japanese tiled splashback – awesome details.

  • Sarah 2 years ago

    How did I miss this one???
    It’s so special, love EVERYTHING about it, thanks for sharing Lucy & Alex

  • Marcus 2 years ago

    Did you get the white hanging sphere pendant from ebay?? Need to know!

  • catherine 2 years ago

    the. best. ever! & her use of the reinvigorated and handmade is beautiful, clever & inspiring …

  • WOW!!!!!! What an incredible garage conversion. Looking at these pictures make the space seem so much bigger. Well done

  • Such a beautiful vibrant room.

    I love the use of clean natural colours and woodgrain
    always reminds me of canadian log cabins!

    Love it


  • caz 1 year ago

    I would love to see the floorplan of this! is there anyway of getting it??

  • Ellen 1 year ago

    Literally, a year later and I am still drooling over this renovation! My dad has a similar sized studio I’ve been begging him to let me rent and if I’m ever successful and get to overhaul it, I’ll be sure to use this as inspo. Thanks for an amazing example of beautiful design in a small space!

  • Maja 12 months ago

    Great space!!
    Where is white pot (with crassula) on the first photo from?

  • Jasper Whitton 8 months ago

    awesome design by your friend. he make it very sweet and pleasant look to home

You might also like

Jo Hoban
Thursday 29th October 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 10th November 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 17th November 2015
Jad and Hady Choucair
Tuesday 24th November 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Monday 2nd November 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Friday 6th November 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 4th November 2015
by Lucy Feagins
Monday 9th November 2015
by Lisa Marie Corso
Tuesday 10th November 2015
by Lisa Marie Corso
Friday 30th October 2015