Today’s home is a little like a modern day urban artist colony – a space where creatives live, work and interact, inspiring each others’ practices. In this case, the three creatives who share this beautiful little house on a quiet backstreet in Petersham are Sydney artists Alex Standen, Laura Jones and Mirra Whale. With an impressive art pedigree between them, it would be impossible for this house to be anything short of beautiful!
Alex, Laura and Mirra are close friends, and have each spent significant amounts of time moving around, and living outside Sydney. But late in 2014, they all found themselves back here, and in need of a home. As it happened, there was a home in need of some love from them!
Mirra and Laura moved into the place in late September 2014, which was at the time painted in a questionable palette of blue, magenta, purple and yellow! Though they’re renting, the owner of their home is known to them, which has given Mirra, Laura and Alex the freedom to significantly improve the place and make it beautiful. Soon after moving in, they wasted no time in throwing themselves into a renovation, ripping up carpet and painting walls. ‘We have such a colourful array of paintings, rugs and objects that we decided to paint it all white. There is nothing like painting a house before you move in, it is like a new canvas’ explains Mirra.
Not shy of a power tool and some DIY-style home demolition, the girls’ most impressive project has been the renovation of their kitchen. ‘I have a history in hospitality and a love of cooking, so for me the kitchen is the heart of a home,’ explains Mirra. ‘An artist friend of mine, Celia Gullet, gave me a beautiful stained glass window that she had rescued off the street, and the house is a weather board cottage, so I literally cut a hole straight into the side wall, sanded and repainted the window and put it in,’ Mirra details.
The presence and immense talent of each artist is felt all around this house. The walls are hung with large artworks by both Laura and Mirra, as well as a host of their artist friends, while Alex’s ceramics are sprinkled liberally around. Almost all of the ceramic tableware in the kitchen was made by Alex, and is used daily. And there is no shortage of flowers – beautiful, sprawling arrangements constructed by Laura, who worked part-time as a florist whilst at art school.
There is very little in this home that doesn’t have a story to tell. Almost everything here is second hand, handed down from loved ones, or handcrafted. The dining table was a 30th birthday gift for Laura, made by her brother Elliot, whose business, Telegraph Rd, is based in the mountains where he and Laura grew up. The new kitchen was largely Mirra’s creation, right down to the handmade leather drawer pulls, cut from an old handbag. Alex made the plates and bowls the household eat from daily, as well as the terracotta lamps hanging in the lounge room, and over the dining table.
‘Likeminded’ is an understatement when describing the synergy of these three housemates. There is a certain magic here that really feels like sisterhood. It is clear that Laura, Mirra and Alex each derive great enjoyment and support from living together, and operate more like a family unit than as housemates. Alex reflects on how nice it is coming home each night after a day in the studio, and finding ‘two lovely souls to chat to about similar creative struggles or triumphs.’
Mirra sums up the home these girls have created perfectly – ‘We set it up as a place to constantly build on, a community that is inclusive of every aspect of our lives, and the people who come and go, in such meaningful ways.’