I’ve always loved those incredible Foy & Gibson warehouses in Collingwood. You know the ones, those imposing brick edifices which line Oxford and Cambridge streets. Somehow, these particular two streets feel unlike any other in Melbourne.
Foy & Gibson was one of Australia’s earliest department stores, and at one point in time, Collingwood was the epicentre of Foy’s manufacturing. Here, spanning two square miles, were Foy & Gibson’s hosiery and knitting mills, clothing factories, engineering workshops, a motor garage and furniture factory, as well as expansive retails stores on Smith st. In the early 1900’s, this vast factory complex employed around 2,000 people.
These days, the buildings that remain have almost all been converted into apartments. Most were subdivided off in the 1980’s and 90’s as empty warehouse shells, ripe for renovation (which wouldn’t happen today, of course!). It means there are still a whole lot of amazing, proper loft apartments in Collingwood, with tin roofs, soaring ceilings and huge windows, red brick walls and original timber rafters and floors. You just don’t see warehouse apartments like this anymore.
The home of interior designer and set decorator Ineke Hutter and her kids Leo (7 yrs) and Arlo (4 yrs) is one such apartment. It’s big but relaxed and unpretentious, with a generous open plan living / dining and kitchen area, two bedrooms and a study. Such a beauty.
‘Our apartment was where they did all the wool sorting at the Foy and Gibson Wool mills, and our floorboards still bear the scars of where the machinery plugged though, and where the lanolin stained it, all surrounded by the original crumbling red brick walls, large timber sash windows, lining board ceilings and tin roof’ explains Ineke. ‘It is this incredible sense of history and aged imperfection that makes it such a warm and comfortable home.’
Ineke has been here eleven years. With her background in design and set decoration, she’s managed to fill her home with furniture, artwork and ephemera collected from various film sets, markets and secondhand dealers, along with precious pieces that her boys have made. ‘There was no overriding plan or direction when it came to decorating’ Ineke says. ‘The outcome is a constantly evolving, adapting, mish mash curation of everything we love. We feel super snug here.’