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Philip Messenger and Susannah Lempriere

Homes

The Prahran home of architect Susannah Lempriere (of Kennedy Nolan), her husband Philip Messenger (of meal delivery service The Meal Messenger) and their 1 year old daughter Lula is small but perfectly formed. It’s the perfect showpiece for small footprint living – in fact, the whole site (including a sweet postage-stamp garden) is only 110sqm.

22nd June, 2016

Some of Susannah and Phillip’s many collections, on the bookshelf in the dining Room. ‘Chook painting by Joanna Braithwaite, ‘Picking Grapes at Loxton North’ by Ian Abdulla and ‘Houses’ by Nick Howson. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Sitting Room. Silkscreen print (above fireplace) ‘Callow’ by Kirra Jamison. Painting (above sofa) ‘Madame de Pompadour’ by Angela Brennan. Watering Cans by Paolo Navone. Painting (behind watering cans) by Warren O’Brien of Arts Project Australia, purchased from Modern Times.  Table is a one off which was purchased with Susannah’s first month’s pay as a graduate architect from Industria on Gertrude Street. ‘It’s purchase prompted us to renovate the house!’ says Susannah. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bookshelf and Dining Room. Paintings ‘Chook’ by Joanna Braithwaite, ‘Picking Grapes at Loxton North’ by Ian Abdulla and ‘Houses’ by Nick Howson. Chairs are no.19 bentwood chairs from Thonet. Table is Saarinen Tulip Table. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bookshelf and Drinks Tray. Lights are ‘Shady Wall Lamps’ by ISM Objects. Painting ‘Picking Grapes at Loxton North’ by Ian Abdulla. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Sitting Room. Light ‘Tab’ Floor Lamp by Flos. Rug ‘Nest Weave’ in natural from Armadillo&Co. Various Aboriginal bird carvings. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen frame cluster. Mix of treasures collected over years, including the Dutch still life, things found on travels, and paintings by friends and family. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen. Carrara marble bench top. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Main Bedroom. Bedside tables by Jardan. Wall mounted lights are Lampe de Marseille (by Le Corbusier). Painting is a treasured family portrait of the sculptor Helen Lempriere. by Alma Figuerola. At the end of the bed is a Danish Woven cane stool from Grandfathers Axe. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bedroom frame cluster. Top left painting ‘Man Walking Dog’ by Nicholas Harding. Second row left print is a whimsical family crest created for the couple’s wedding by New York artist Happy Menocal. The remaining are various op-shop finds or have been collected over the years. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bedroom. Old plaster wall mounted light of a young QEII. Green flex by NUD. Offcut Stool by Tom Dixon. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lula’s Bedroom. Blanket from Country Road and cot from IKEA. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Susannah Lempriere and Philip Messenger with their King Charles Spaniel, Gilbert! Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The distinctive facade of Susannah and Philip’s Victorian weatherboard worker’s cottage. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 22nd June 2016

There’s an art to small space living. In fact, small houses  are where great design really sings. Because really, it’s not all that hard to create a lovely home when you have generous proportions to work with, but re-working a seriously tiny two bedroom cottage to accommodate a family of three (plus pets!), without compromising on style, is a triumph!

Susannah Lempriere and Philip Messenger’s home is a Victorian weatherboard cottage of around 130 years old. Despite it’s prominent double-fronted street presence, the house in fact sits on a shallow block – there’s just one bedroom either side of a central hallway, with an open plan kitchen / living / dining at the rear.

After purchasing their home just under 5 years ago, Susannah set about re-working the floorplan to maximise space. They ripped out the dilapidated 1950’s kitchen/laundry lean-to, and re-planned the rear living and eating zones, also extending the house to the boundary. ‘It was absolutely tiny, and we have made it a little less tiny’ Susannah says.

A few clever, simple decisions here have made the world of difference. What the house lacked in floor area it made up for in impressive ceiling height, so Susannah had all the doorways enlarged to accommodate extra tall doors, which adds a generous feeling of roominess throughout. A hidden butler’s pantry / laundry also adds valuable storage, allowing the kitchen itself to be relatively compact and uncluttered.

Susannah and Philip are collectors – but they’re very organised collectors. Their various collections of books, artworks and trinkets are grouped by theme, and displayed ever so neatly, to great effect. The result is a space that feels personalised, cute and quirky, but never cluttered.

‘We are real collectors, and are always picking up treasures on our travels’ Susannah says. ‘Sadly our house has almost reached capacity… There is barely any wall space left or horizontal surfaces to put anything on!’

This is such a warm, happy little house, with a personality all its own. ’It’s not particularly considered’ Susannah says, modestly. ‘It’s more of a repository for our treasures than reminiscent of a particular style’ she says. In fact, despite its small proportions, thanks to Susannah’s clever groundwork, this is a superbly comfortable and functional family home, and an exemplary case study for small footprint living.

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