Australian Homes

Susan Horacek

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 9th December 2015

We often say the most interesting and inspiring homes we love to document belong to artists, and today we share another example.

This character-filled open plan warehouse in Fitzroy belongs to painter and teacher Susan Horacek. If you watch local TV drama, it may seem a little familiar….!

Susan Horacek first set foot inside this house about twelve years ago. The owners at the time were friends, and Susan was invited to dinner. ‘At the time they were mid-renovation, and the courtyard open to the sky was a shell, containing a pile of rubble, but even then you could imagine how it would be transformed’ explains Susan. ‘I fell in love with it. It reminded me of a combination of all the places I had lived, in the city and the country. It already had memories, if that is possible!’

The property came up for sale a few years later. Susan only found out through a chance conversation, and had two days before auction to find out if she could afford it. ‘The bank’s answer was no, but two days later I had a new home’ she says!

Susan has lived here now for 5 years, and in that short time the home has quickly become central to her creative practice and her family life. Much loved family pets Bronnie, Tigey and Harry the dog have lived and died here, whilst a number of Susan’s family members have come and gone when they have needed accommodation from time to time.

Susan hasn’t changed much since moving in. Originally built in 1920 for Abrahams Jute Works, who produced jute sacking for packaging, the open plan warehouse had already been divided into several ‘rooms’ by the previous owners, with what Susan describes ‘a theatrical over the top feel’. There was no need to change anything structural, as the versatile layout of the home was really what had attracted Susan in the first place. Other than painting a few walls, and filling the courtyard with plants grown from cuttings, Susan’s home felt more or less like ‘home’ from the get go.

Susan loves all the quirks her house came with, particularly the textured hessian-covered walls in the living room, thick rope trims and quirky nautical-style numbered kitchen cupboards. The inside/outside courtyard is a favourite spot – ‘it feels like camping in the courtyard when it’s raining’ Susan enthuses.

One of Susan’s favourite details is the fully-functioning 1937 Metters Kooka gas stovetop and oven, whilst the property’s distinctive front door is also a much-discussed part of the house, with the ‘1632 AD’ plate above. On the weekends, Susan often finds bridal parties and fashion shoots stopping outside to take photos at the front door. If she’s lucky, they sometimes post a ‘thank you’ bottle of wine through the cat flap!

Susan Horacek at the front of her Fitzroy home. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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