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Philip Messenger and Susannah Lempriere

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 22nd June 2016

The Prahran home of architect Susannah Lempriere (of Kennedy Nolan), her husband Philip Messenger (of meal delivery service The Meal Messenger) and their 1 year old daughter Lula is small but perfectly formed. It’s the perfect showpiece for small footprint living – in fact, the whole site (including a sweet postage-stamp garden) is only 110sqm.

There’s an art to small space living. In fact, small houses  are where great design really sings. Because really, it’s not all that hard to create a lovely home when you have generous proportions to work with, but re-working a seriously tiny two bedroom cottage to accommodate a family of three (plus pets!), without compromising on style, is a triumph!

Susannah Lempriere and Philip Messenger’s home is a Victorian weatherboard cottage of around 130 years old. Despite it’s prominent double-fronted street presence, the house in fact sits on a shallow block – there’s just one bedroom either side of a central hallway, with an open plan kitchen / living / dining at the rear.

After purchasing their home just under 5 years ago, Susannah set about re-working the floorplan to maximise space. They ripped out the dilapidated 1950’s kitchen/laundry lean-to, and re-planned the rear living and eating zones, also extending the house to the boundary. ‘It was absolutely tiny, and we have made it a little less tiny’ Susannah says.

A few clever, simple decisions here have made the world of difference. What the house lacked in floor area it made up for in impressive ceiling height, so Susannah had all the doorways enlarged to accommodate extra tall doors, which adds a generous feeling of roominess throughout. A hidden butler’s pantry / laundry also adds valuable storage, allowing the kitchen itself to be relatively compact and uncluttered.

Susannah and Philip are collectors – but they’re very organised collectors. Their various collections of books, artworks and trinkets are grouped by theme, and displayed ever so neatly, to great effect. The result is a space that feels personalised, cute and quirky, but never cluttered.

‘We are real collectors, and are always picking up treasures on our travels’ Susannah says. ‘Sadly our house has almost reached capacity… There is barely any wall space left or horizontal surfaces to put anything on!’

This is such a warm, happy little house, with a personality all its own. ’It’s not particularly considered’ Susannah says, modestly. ‘It’s more of a repository for our treasures than reminiscent of a particular style’ she says. In fact, despite its small proportions, thanks to Susannah’s clever groundwork, this is a superbly comfortable and functional family home, and an exemplary case study for small footprint living.

Susannah Lempriere and Philip Messenger with their King Charles Spaniel, Gilbert! Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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