I had the great pleasure of meeting one of Sydney's best known creative retailers recently, Leanne Carter-Taylor, who owns industrial and antique furniture store Quintessential DuckeggBLUE, ladies' fashion store duckeggBLUE, AND now 'The Man Next Door' - a brand new menswear store, just opened in July this year. Aside from being one lovely lady with a seriously fabulous (and contagious) British accent, Leanne is a total dynamo! I can't believe how much she juggles, between all three stores AND her amazing e-magazine, 'The Quintessential Magazine', which is a labour of love, and so truly beautiful! (We've actually featured this inspired side project here once before.)
Leanne lives in Rozelle, not far from her three stores in Balmain, with her husband Trent, and a motley crew of four friendly little dogs - Woody, Muffin, Millhouse and Ralphy! Leanne and Trent's home is a tiny little sandstone workers cottage, with a weatherboard extension at the rear. The original part of the house dates from the turn of the century - it's essentially comprised of just two rooms, plus a bathroom! The modern extension adds a kitchen and dining / living area to this modest footprint, plus a sweet little home office in the attic upstairs.
Leanne and Trent purchased their home back in 2002. 'It had character, charm and potential - and we could afford it!' says Leanne. It was, however, crying out for a little TLC, which Leanne and Trent tackled strategically, in stages. During their first few years in the house, they renovated the original two rooms at the front of the house, pulling out carpets and built-in wardrobes, re-painting and wallpapering, and sanding and staining the floor boards. The rest of the house was a bigger undertaking!
'The remainder of the house needed some serious attention, council approval and lots of money - so the renovation wasn't completed until October 2012, 10 years after we moved in!' says Leanne. 'We have now (FINALLY) renovated literally every room' she continues. The recent renovations took eight months, during which time Leanne and Trent had to move out temporarily. 'There was absolutely no way we could have stayed here during the work, as walls came down, doorways got moved, the kitchen and bathroom were completely re-worked, and the attic was converted' explains Leanne.
'Our house reflects our own style - it’s basically an extension of our furniture store' says Leanne. 'Even though we love the old and worn, we like pieces that are finished to a high standard. People often think of vintage salvage as clutter and junk, but that isn’t always the case!'. Indeed, this home perfectly reflects Leanne's passion for traditional and industrial things, but also incorporates a level of refinement and minimalism, with its clean lines, restrained colour palette and striking contrast of light and dark.
When asked what she loves most about living here, it's clear how much satisfaction Leanne gets from having finally completed the 10 year renovation (!!), and seizing the opportunity to really put her stamp on the place. 'It’s great to finally come to a space that we created' says Leanne. 'Being a decorative salvage dealer for our store, I would say that I found about 98% of all of our furnishings myself… I love that! I can admire all my finds, knowing exactly where I found them, and what state they were in. It’s pretty satisfying.'
Huge thanks to leanne and Trent for sharing their home with us today! If you love Leanne's style, do check out her industrial & antique furniture store, Quintessential DuckeggBLUE when next in Sydney.
ALSO, I cannot recommend highly enough The Quintessential Magazine, Leanne's amazing e-magazine, produced in collaboration with some amazing creatives including Tracy Lines (previously Creative Director of Inside Out magazine), super stylist Glen Proebstel and photographer Sharyn Cairns! The whole team does such an incredible job with this little publication - subcribe here to check it out.