Lynda Gardener is well known in Melbourne’s design, decoration and styling community for her beautiful little store, Gardener and Marks, which she owns with Amanda Henderson. Lynda previously owned much loved Empire Vintage in Albert Park for 22 years. Her signature look is a crisp neutral palette of mainly white and grey, with antique and rustic details layered to perfection. This distinctive aesthetic defines each of Lynda’s various design and decoration projects.
This converted warehouse in North Fitzroy has been Lynda’s home for over 15 years. Originally, it was a mattress factory. When Lynda first took it on, the building was derelict, with dumped cars piled up inside! Buying the warehouse meant facing a significant renovation project – but Lynda is never afraid to get her hands dirty! ‘It had asbestos all the way thorough it, no plumbing, caved in ceilings and was pretty much derelict for many years prior’ she says. Retaining the structural features and character of the place, Lynda set about cleaning up and opening up the internal spaces, creating one large open plan living / kitchen / dining space downstairs with white polished concrete floors, and a spacious master bedroom with bathing space upstairs (the original cast iron bath sits right in the master bedroom!), plus a roof garden overlooking the laneways of Fitzroy. Essentially, this is a simple one bedroom home – albeit a very special one!
Last year, Lynda added a new element to her home. Beyond the leafy courtyard garden, she created The White Room, a self contained living space complete with ensuite, kitchen and its own separate entrance via rear laneway, which she leases out as guest accommodation. This sweet and supremely photogenic little unit is also often used for photoshoots.
Lynda has an incredible eye for uncovering the most exquisite vintage furniture and accessories, and has turned this uncanny knack into an artform over the years. Her home is her living museum, where salvaged treasures are displayed, on rotation, before perhaps finding themselves for sale in her store, or utilised in one of her many other design projects. Her favourite collection currently is the wall of painted portraits she has sourced over many years, hanging proudly above her dining room table. ‘I have filled the wall with male portraits from the 1800s through to the 1950s. I love looking at them in detail, the attire, the hairstyles and so on!’ she says.
What is perhaps most admirable about this space is that it really is a home created without compromise. It has been a labour of love getting it ‘just right’, and though perhaps having a freestanding bathtub in the centre of one’s bedroom mightn’t work for everybody (!), for Lynda, this is perfection. ‘I love everything about living here, and can’t see myself ever moving’ she says. ‘It’s a little industrial, a little rustic, with a touch of the new… and forever evolving and changing’ says Lynda. ‘Even as I write this I am waiting for my new couch and coffee table to arrive!’