Kristina Tsoulis‐Reay has been renting her much loved home in Preston in Melbourne’s North since 2007. Originally, she lived here with a friend, but Kristina always imagined this might be the perfect home to raise a family in. In 2008 her partner, fellow artist Mark Rodda moved in, and the rest is history! The couple rent the home privately and have a good relationship with their landlord (who is a sculptor), which has meant a relatively stress-free long lease. The family have had the freedom to hang their extensive collection of paintings on the walls, plant a veggie patch, convert the shed into a studio, and really grow roots here.
‘The house enables us to live a relaxed lifestyle’ says Kristina. ‘We can work (paint) from home, grow vegetables and both be present to look after the girls. This house is kind to us!’
Decoratively speaking, the home is a perfect mish mash of Mark and Kristina’s complementary tastes. ‘Mark’s aesthetic is colourful and ramshackle, mine is more ordered and muted’ says Kristina. ‘I like peasant handicrafts and Scandinavian design. We both like childlike things. I guess the interior of the house is a mixture of these approaches, although friends have also described our lifestyle and aesthetic as ‘Moomin’, after the characters in the Tove Jansson books!’
Without hesitation, when asked what their most treasured possessions are, Kristina and Mark refer to their many paintings. Dotted on every wall, in every room, Kristina’s beautiful portraits (many of herself and her daughters) are haunting, whilst Mark’s impressive works are more varied in style, including striking abstract geometric paintings, monochrome prints and more painterly fantastical landscapes. Like all artists, Mark and Kristina have also swapped and acquired a number of pieces by other local painters they admire – Mark’s favourite is a portrait of him by Rob McHaffie, whilst Kristina loves the magnolia painting by Jess Lucas.
There’s a distinct sense of familiarity about this home. Much like the home of a family member or dear close friend, it’s the kind of house you can imagine feeling totally at ease in, comfortable enough to kick off your shoes or make yourself a cup of tea. I think perhaps it comes from a sense of being just so relaxed and so real – it’s perfectly imperfect, with nothing to hide. This is a house that feels like ‘home’ from the moment you walk in the door.