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Jason Chongue and Nathan Smith


Today’s sweet and supremely photogenic home in Abbotsford takes indoor gardening to another level.

Interior designer (and passionate plant whisperer) Jason Chongue and his partner Nathan Smith, a flight attendant, have lovingly cultivated a collection of around 200 (!) rare plants, all living happily under one roof. This is the healthiest, happiest, glossiest looking indoor jungle we’ve ever seen, too! Not a crispy brown leaf in sight. How do they do it!?


5th October, 2016

The Abbotsford home of interior designer Jason Chongue and flight attendant Nathan Smith. Above – Kitchen details. ‘I designed this kitchen to embrace and amplify the natural light. The Carrara Marble was sourced to create a subtle natural backdrop for the custom folded brass doors. It took some time to find the right craftsmen for the brass,’ says Jason. Cupboard door handles handmade by Rowsaan. The Ercol dining table was rescued and restored with bees wax. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Jason Chongue and Nathan Smith at home. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen detail. ‘Lemons grown by my grandma are always a guest in the house! They are a miniature Portuguese variety which she had growing in East Timor,’ says Jason. Serving plate from Country Road. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Living room. ‘The living room has always been a merge and play of texture. Woven sun chair rescued from a local hard rubbish collection,’ says Jason. ‘Turning Table’ from Menu Furniture. Plants are just a few from Jason’s impressive indoor plant collection, sourced from local growers.  Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Second bedroom. The vintage painting was found at Camberwell Market. ‘Copper Night Quilt’ and Velvet Euro from Squeak Design. Velvet pillowcases from Kip & co. ‘Fern’ cushion from The Club of Odd Volumes. Pot from Tamago Ceramics. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A collection of plants from various growers for Jason’s project,  ‘The Plant Society’. Monstera Obliqua, Pilea Peperomiodes and Cotyledon Sinus Alexandri are just a few from his plant collection. The pots are from Penelope Duke, MUD and Wingnut & co. The brass vessel is from a flea market in Malaysia. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Master bedroom. Artwork is a collection from Jason’s time backpacking through Europe and Africa. Geometric print from The Minimalist. ‘Matchsticks’ Bedding from Kip & Co, ‘Strike’ cushion cover and ‘Midnight Ink’ Shopper Bag from Squeak Design, Knitted Throw from Country Road. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Tiny, lush back garden. ‘A range of plants grown from cuttings and inherited plants from my childhood,’ mentions Jason. Vintage wire chairs purchased on eBay. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The front facade of Jason and Nathan’s home. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 5th October 2016

There’s no doubt we’re seeing a serious resurgence in the popularity of indoor plants lately. YES, plants have always had their place in the home, but we’ve never seen quite so much wonderful greenery gracing the homes we photographic each week.

Jason and his partner Nathan have lived in their tiny Victorian worker’s cottage for 2.5 years now. When Jason first purchased the home, it had already undergone a typical 80’s renovation – complete with pastel coloured walls, retro tiles and ‘linen’ textured laminate surfaces. The backgarden was, in Jason’s words – ‘100% concrete with the exception of an Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant) in a concrete pot’. Luckily, this little house landed in the hands of just the right man.

Jason’s first priority was to restore a sense of the original Victorian character of the home. Door heights were increased to create better proportions throughout the home, and a coat of paint lightened the atmosphere. A wall was removed between the living and dining rooms to create a brighter, more user-friendly space.

A classic, contemporary palette of textures and materials was introduced in the kitchen. Custom folded brass cupboard doors were commissioned to complement carrara marble bench tops, complementing beautifully handcrafted door handles by local makers Rowsaan.

Both externally and internally, an impressive garden of potted plants has been lovingly cultivated by Jason, adding a unique sense of life and texture to every corner of this home. ‘The soil is extremely fertile, probably from the farm that once existed on this site’ Jason says.

Originally built in 1870, it’s amazing to think how many lives this little cottage may have had. ‘I’m interested in embracing the history of The Workers’ House, whilst reinterpreting the old’ Jason muses. ‘Designed and constructed by myself and family, the house continues to evolve’.

If you find yourself swooning over Jason’s carefully cultivated rare plant collection (most of his plants are extra special species not available in shops!) you’ll be interested to know about his side project, ‘The Plant Society’! He’s having his first plant sale this coming weekend in Melbourne – well worth a look!  All details here.

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