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Penny Lane


Whilst we do love bold colour and eclectic details, it must be said that when it comes to houses, there is very little more photogenic than a bright white space with white painted floors. Crisp, classic, and oh so bright and beautiful.  Such is the luminous living and working space of Sydney photographer Penny Lane.

4th March, 2015
Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 4th March 2015

Sydney photographer and creative all-rounder Penny Lane (yes, that is her real name) lives and works from this open plan studio apartment in Chippendale, in what was once an old chocolate factory, now known as the ‘MacRobertson building’.

Penny shares her amazing apartment with her beloved pup Rocky Raccoon.  She’s renting, and though she’s been here only 6 months, Penny has already (understandably) fallen head over heels in love with her unique new abode. She hopes very much to be here for a long time, though she says just last week the building was put on the market, so the future looks a little uncertain for now.

Not long after moving in, Penny set about freshening up the space with a fresh coat of white paint.  ‘I repainted all the white, and anything that wasn’t white (like the raw wooden kitchen, for instance) I painted white, white, white!’ she says.  The painted floors in particular give this space such a spectacular brightness and incredible sense of space – this is such a quick and cost effective treatment for any kind of floor (floorboards, chipboard, concrete) which has seen better days.

After brightening up her space, Penny’s next step was to fill it with as many plants as possible!  ‘Theres no outside space here, which is the only thing lacking, so I’ve tried to bring the outside in’ she says.

If you take some time perusing the epic captions Penny kindly shared with us (we do love an exhaustive caption), you’ll quickly realise Penny has a serious knack for fossicking.  As it happens, almost everything here has been inherited or salvaged from second hand shops in the last six months alone, since Penny previously lived in share houses, with a lot less stuff.

‘The furniture is all from garage sales/ roadside collection/ op shops and vintage stores’ says Penny.  ‘A lot of them have their own little story, like one day I was running late to a meeting in Marrickville, and out of the corner of my eye, piled up on the front of an op shop’s footpath I saw a set of chairs, so I chucked a crazy u-wy and parked illegally and bought the chairs, somehow fitting them into the back of my car, and I still wasn’t even THAT late for my meeting!’ she recalls proudly! ‘I always seem to be finding the best things out of the corner of my op-shop-eagle eye when I’m meant to be doing something else or running late for something… but I just can’t help it…!’

Amongst op shop finds and roadside treasures, you’ll spot the odd obligatory Ikea best seller here, alongside a handful of artworks and prints by talented creative friends. ‘I am so lucky to have the most amazing artists as dear friends, and to be surrounded by so many creative people’ says Penny.  She’s particularly fond of an artwork by her friend Jess Racklyeft, a Melbourne based illustrator. ‘I’ve known Jess since grade 1 and she is a constant source of inspiration to me, and always gives me a kick up the butt when I need encouragement to do things!’ says Penny. (Apparently it was Jess who encouraged Penny to submit shots of her apartment for this story!)

Penny’s own beautiful photographic prints are also represented here – we particularly love her floral series (these will soon be available online, alongside Penny’s own fledgling handcrafted homewares label, Jaguar Shark – sorry no links yet but we’ll update this post when we have them!).

Penny is endearingly gushy about the beautiful, versatile creative space she calls home. It’s clear she’s found her perfect pad. ‘There are so many creative businesses and artists in this area, its just a really lovely, friendly, and inspirational space to inhabit.  We can pretty much do whatever we like here (events, openings, exhibitions ) and that freedom in a rented space is rare and not taken for granted’ she says.

And whilst we could certainly end the story here, being a high-schooler of the ‘90s myself, I just have to close with Penny’s nostalgic TV reference below – gold!

‘I think I’m finally living out my dream that has been burning strong ever since watching Heartbreak High in high school, and drooling over Drazic, and being so so jealous of the friends living in a warehouse space…’ says Penny. ‘I’ve always wanted to live and work in an arty warehouse space and have my own photo studio in it, so all these years later its finally coming true, ha ha!’

Living room – antique ‘Ralli’ quilt from Pakistan, from Chee Soon & Fitzgerald in Redfern.  Left artwork by Trudy Morre and right artwork by Jess Racklyeft.  Penny’s adorable pup Rocky Raccoon sits on the couch! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email