The Doll's House

This playful family home in Northcote belongs to artist, curator and author Tai Snaith, her partner Simon Knott of BKK architects (he designed the house), and their two young sons Leo (6) and Gil (4).

Known as ‘The Doll’s House’, this lovingly handcrafted home speaks volumes about the creative family who live here.


Lucy Feagins
Supported by Dulux

The Northcote home of Tai Snaith and family. Tai hand-glazed the tiles used in the kitchen splashback (there are 520 of them!) and worked with tilers to arrange them in this pattern on-site. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The main living area looking out into the back garden. The exposed wooden beams are made with engineered Cyprus timber from sustainable plantations and the hand fired bricks from Pedersen Bricks. ‘The marble island bench is usually covered in bills, lists and school notices!,’ says Tai. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

This large glass window opens right out into the garden like a giant door, opening up the space in summer for family gatherings – everyone loves lounging on the green couch inside and outside. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The east-facing window on the new part of the house. Porcelain floor tiles by Academy Tiles. Artwork by Nathan Gray (top) Sarah CrowEST (bottom). Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The fireplace is from Cheminees Phillippe, ‘Slow Motion Catastrophe’ (melted ice-cream) lamp designed and made by Tai, her partner Simon Knott, and Rory Hyde. Artworks by Nathan Gray (top) and Sarah CrowEST (bottom). Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

This family’s dining corner, featuring Eames chairs, Mark Tuckey table, and paintings by Katherine Hattam (top right of bookshelf) and Cherry Hood(on wall). ‘The bookshelves are a major part of our home – we love books and have a lot of them,’ tells Tai. Her library is also dotted with artworks traded with fellow artists. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The northern-facing facade of Tai Snaith‘s ‘Dolls House,’ complete with ‘Playschool’ windows! ‘My veggie garden is to the right (with two avocado trees) and the garden bed on the left I plant seasonally with bulbs, snapdragons, etc,’ mentions Tai. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Artist and author Tai Snaith at home. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking from the playroom into Tai’s studio. ‘We generally have it open, but I have a sliding door with a lock for deadlines and desperate times of isolation!’ she says. Artwork inside studio by Tai, and Chris Bond (right). Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Chairs by Svend Skipper (pink) and Grant Featherston (cream) upstairs, alongside art by Tai (left) and Adam Lee (right). Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The upstairs bathroom with tiles by Academy Tiles. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Leo’s room, with artwork (clockwise from middle left); Cross stitch by Simon’s mum; Justin Williams; Kez; bear by Robert Bowers; Rooster by my mum; Ghostpatrol; and a painting of wildflowers by Simon’s grandmother. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
26th of April 2017

Tai Snaith is a well known and much loved Melbourne artist, curator and author. She has one of those endlessly creative minds, always dreaming up ideas for new artworks, exhibitions, books and collaborations. Over the past four years, in addition to raising her two boys Leo and Gil with partner Simon, and maintaining a prolific creative practice, Tai has also authored and illustrated four children’s books – the latest of which has just launched! (More on that later).

The Northcote property Tai shares with Simon and their two young sons is a truly special home. Carefully considered, and full of hand-made details, this is a space that perfectly encapsulates the intense creativity of the folks who live here.

The house unfolds unexpectedly – a charming Californian Bungalow facade reveals little of the contemporary architectural statement at the rear of the home, and there’s a distinct nod to mid-century interiors too, with exposed timber rafters and brightly coloured carpet, alongside a handful of collectible vintage furniture pieces. Dotted with artwork by friends and family, and flanked at front and rear by lush, productive gardens, this is a dream family home for Tai and co.

After living here for four years, in what was previously a very run down old house, Tai and Simon embarked on a major renovation in late 2014. ‘We got the feel of the place, where the sunny spots were, where we wanted to spend most time’ Tai recalls. ‘This time was really important when it came to finally being able to build the new part of the house. We pretty much spent those four years designing our home, and when it finally came we had a 4 year old and a baby, and we wanted it pretty badly!’

The front of the old house was retained, whilst the back end was demolished and replaced with a brand new addition. This new section, with its fairytale pitched roof and ‘play school windows’ is what gives the house its name – ‘The Dolls House’.

‘Our house is very much about play and creativity’ explains Tai. ‘My practise as an artist is grounded in play, and our two boys do nothing but play. Simon was quite inspired by the idea of original Dolls Houses being spaces of imagination and flexibility.’

For Tai, home is a space for disciplined work, creative play and family time. ‘I love the quiet calm of our house’ says the artist. ‘I work from home, so I spend a lot of my time here. It really feels like it fits us, probably because it was very much designed by us.’

Tai’s latest children’s book, ‘Slow Down World‘, is her fourth published book, and features the most incredible collaged illustrations using both clay and cut paper. It’s a sweet tale with a simple, powerful message.

‘This book has come at a time where I have a better understanding of how my time works, and how to be in control of it’ Tai says. ‘As a parent I was always rushing around, trying to fit a million things into each day, just because I felt like I had to. When I started working on this book I was overcome with a desire to make a book that helped both kids and parents appreciate what it means to do things slowly, and to feel ok about that’.

Slow Down World by Tai Snaith is available now through all good booksellers, with signed copies online here.

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