Stephen and Helena Trupp

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
4th of April 2012

Melbourne’s Trupp family have the sweetest vintage-inspired apartment in Ripponlea.  Top  – 2 yr old Odessa’s room, featuring the best vintage sign EVER!?

The sweet retro-inspired kitchen / dining space of Melbourne’s Trupp family

Retro-inspired kitchen

Ok so it was a little tricky coming up with the perfect home to share for KIDS WEEK… because, you know, as far as I know most kids live with adults.  But SOME adults do have an enviably whimsical, frivolous and fun decorating style…  and that is certainly true of Melbourne’s Trupp Family!

Helena and Stephen Trupp live in this generous 3 bedroom period apartment in Melbourne’s Ripponlea, with 2 year old Odessa a a handful of budgies. (actually the budgies are out the back don’t worry).

If Stephen’s name sounds familiar that’s because Mr Trupp made his decorating debut on Channel 9’s ‘Top Design‘ last year.  He was a well loved character and came second in the end – so close to winning!  Whilst the show didn’t bring him fame and fortune, it did give Stephen the confidence he needed to follow his passion.  When the show ended, he decided to leave his career in Youth Work and focus fulltime on the business he runs with Helena – Empirical Style.

Together Helena and Steve source and sell a seriously impressive collection of vintage and vintage-inspired products including maps, wall charts, industrial lights and subway signs (reproduced under license from the MTA New York).  There’s also a super sweet collection for kids!  At present they sell online but they’re always being asked whether they’ll open a bricks and mortar store…!  For now the answer is ‘maybe, maybe not!’

It’s hard to believe Steve, Helena and Odessa have been here only a year and a half after relocating from Sydney.  The place already really looks and feels so homely.  ‘The beauty of this home is the 1930’s have set such a classic palette’ says Helena,  who says she and Steve were really inspired by the vintage features of their new home.  Of course Helena and Steve’s signature look was the perfect styling approach for this space – the vintage maps, neon signage and fabulous retro inspired kitchen details are so on the money!

Whilst they don’t own this house, Helena and Steve have poured a lot of love and elbow grease into this home – I was particularly impressed with the utensil hanging rails in the kitchen – they’re from IKEA, but painted peppermint green!  Ingenious – they look 100% vintage!  Who would have thought.

One favourite item for Helena (and one of the reasons this home seemed so perfect for KIDS WEEK!) is the incredible oversized ‘The Shop’ vintage sign in Odessa’s room, pictured below. This unique piece was purchased during the Trupp family adventures through ‘The worlds longest yard sale’ in the USA last year. AMAZING!  Now THAT would make a good TV show.  ‘The Trupp Family USA Yard Sale Adventures’.  I would totally watch that.

Massive thanks to Helena, Stephen and Odessa for sharing their fabulous family home with us today!  If you love their style you will DEFINITELY love their shop… do pop over to Empirical Style. and have a little fossick.  I am seriously coveting that ‘Peppermint Crisp’ cage lights – minty green with black and white flex!  Delicious.

Odessa’s room detail

Odessa’s room details

Lounge room featuring Empirical Style cage lights

Lounge reverse.  ‘The neon sign in the lounge is steve’s hand writing. He had it custom made as a present to himself after Top Design’ says Helena.

Loungeroom details

Loungeroom details – subway sign from Empirical Style

Trupp Family Value Store!  Custom vintage style decals applied to an antique wardrobe.

Master bedroom – cage light and Charley Harper prints available from Empirical Style

Bedroom details – cage light and Charley Harper prints available from Empirical Style


Empirical Style HQ (aka the front room!).  ‘The Black bookshelves and the sideboard were rescued from the tip, painted black and now are full of exotic treasures we’ve collected over the years’ says Helena.

Eclectic finds in the Empirical Style office

Apartment exterior

The perfect powder yellow VW van!

Similar Stories

Recent Homes