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Jason Chongue and Nathan Smith


Today’s sweet and supremely photogenic home in Abbotsford takes indoor gardening to another level.

Interior designer (and passionate plant whisperer) Jason Chongue and his partner Nathan Smith, a flight attendant, have lovingly cultivated a collection of around 200 (!) rare plants, all living happily under one roof. This is the healthiest, happiest, glossiest looking indoor jungle we’ve ever seen, too! Not a crispy brown leaf in sight. How do they do it!?


5th October, 2016
Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 5th October 2016

There’s no doubt we’re seeing a serious resurgence in the popularity of indoor plants lately. YES, plants have always had their place in the home, but we’ve never seen quite so much wonderful greenery gracing the homes we photographic each week.

Jason and his partner Nathan have lived in their tiny Victorian worker’s cottage for 2.5 years now. When Jason first purchased the home, it had already undergone a typical 80’s renovation – complete with pastel coloured walls, retro tiles and ‘linen’ textured laminate surfaces. The backgarden was, in Jason’s words – ‘100% concrete with the exception of an Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant) in a concrete pot’. Luckily, this little house landed in the hands of just the right man.

Jason’s first priority was to restore a sense of the original Victorian character of the home. Door heights were increased to create better proportions throughout the home, and a coat of paint lightened the atmosphere. A wall was removed between the living and dining rooms to create a brighter, more user-friendly space.

A classic, contemporary palette of textures and materials was introduced in the kitchen. Custom folded brass cupboard doors were commissioned to complement carrara marble bench tops, complementing beautifully handcrafted door handles by local makers Rowsaan.

Both externally and internally, an impressive garden of potted plants has been lovingly cultivated by Jason, adding a unique sense of life and texture to every corner of this home. ‘The soil is extremely fertile, probably from the farm that once existed on this site’ Jason says.

Originally built in 1870, it’s amazing to think how many lives this little cottage may have had. ‘I’m interested in embracing the history of The Workers’ House, whilst reinterpreting the old’ Jason muses. ‘Designed and constructed by myself and family, the house continues to evolve’.

If you find yourself swooning over Jason’s carefully cultivated rare plant collection (most of his plants are extra special species not available in shops!) you’ll be interested to know about his side project, ‘The Plant Society’! He’s having his first plant sale this coming weekend in Melbourne – well worth a look!  All details here.

Kitchen. A wall between the living room and kitchen was removed to re-connect the spaces. The vintage umbrella poster was brought back from Hawaii. Handmade pots from Bridget Bodenham and You, Me & Bones. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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