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Gemma Patford Legge and Duncan Legge

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 16th December 2015

Gemma Patford Legge is pretty well known in Melbourne’s creative circles. Working from a studio in Collingwood, Gemma makes her popular painted rope baskets, and dreams up all manner of clever handmade projects. Her creations are stocked at an impressive array of stockists both here and abroad, and she can often be found at local design markets, or giving craft workshops and classes around town. She also has an impressive following on Instagram!

But today, we’re checking out Gemma’s home. It’s everything you’d expect. Cute ’n crafty, humble and happy, cheerful and colourful and a little bit retro, and full of lovely handmade things and collected treasures.

Gemma Patford Legge shares this sweet two bedroom apartment in Brunswick with her husband Duncan Legge and daughter, Dusty, who is just shy of 6 months old.

Duncan and Gemma have been here exactly 3 years. They stumbled across the apartment quite by accident, whilst looking at a house over the road. ‘We saw a little tiny A4 sign which said ‘Open for Inspection’ recalls Gemma. ‘We jogged over, had a quick 15 minute look around, saw each others faces light up and made an offer. Well, when I say ‘made an offer’ we awkwardly said ‘what do they want’ they said ‘XXX dollars’, we said ‘We have that, can we has apartment?’

When they first took possession, Gemma says the place was ‘DISGUSTING’ (her caps, not mine!). But, the layout was exactly what they were after. It was all open plan, on the ground floor with a tiny little courtyard garden for their cat, Olly to sniff around in. They immediately saw the potential of this sweet little unit.

We thought ‘let’s do a little renovating, a new kitchen, floors and paint job’ recalls Gemma. But once the pair had ripped up the two layers of ‘gross, soggy carpet’ and pulled out the kitchen, there wasn’t much left. They were compelled to get stuck in!

‘The kitchen was so gross’ says Gemma. ‘The oven was freestanding in the middle of the kitchen (you could walk around it) and there was no door to get outside’. The pair knocked out some of the exterior wall, adding nice big double glass doors, and installed a galley style kitchen so the room felt bright and spacious.

Duncan’s family friend, Graham Bennet, built the kitchen from scratch. ‘He is a general all rounder genius type who can do anything if he sets his mind to it!’ says Gemma. Almost all the building materials for the kitchen were salvaged or collected from houses that were being demolished. ‘The cupboards don’t match as they are all from the Castlemaine tip shop’ says Gemma. ‘The drawers are all different too, but some how it works’.

Maximising the small footprint here was essential to making the space really flow, so Graham got his inspiration from caravan style kitchens. A lot of the storage is hidden, and a section of the bench rolls out to become a dining table which can seat 6 people.

I love the way Gemma talks about her home! ‘I think the older I get the more house proud I become’ she says.

‘This is the first home where the bin is HIDDEN. It’s like a 30 dollar rubbish bin from Bunnings but it’s so nice not to live in a share house with wine bottles and pizza boxes stacked up NEAR the bin. A hidden bin is pretty sweet.’

Though they’ve been here only three years, Gemma and Duncan’s apartment is already full of nostalgic memories, and they can’t imagine living anywhere else.

‘I love that Duncan asked me to marry him in the messy / half renovated kitchen’ Gemma enthuses. ‘I love how everywhere I look there is a little piece of us or someone we love. People worry about property prices rising and falling, but I hope we never sell our little apartment.  I hope we retire in Brunswick and I’m waddling down the street talking to my neighbours about the fruit yield from the lemon tree well into my twilight years. Here she comes, old lemon tree Patford.’

Kitchen. Designed and built by Gemma’s family friend, Graham Bennet entirely from recycled and salvaged materials. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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