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Our Favourite Rented Homes


Although owning a house has long been hailed as the ‘Australian Dream’, for many people at different stages of their lives, renting is the most viable option for freedom, flexibility and FUNDS.

While a rental home may *technically* belong to someone else, there’s no reason renters can’t make it distinctly their own. We’ve pulled together some of our favourite rental properties we’ve featured over the years, whose residents’ creativity and knack for creating vibrant spaces (without actually making major structural changes) is both innovative and inspirational!

27th September, 2017

View from lounge into the dining room of Lilli Waters and Jake Cole’s Pascoe Vale home. The vintage poppy painting is cherished as it was salvaged from an op shop and repaired, pictured with rug from IKEA, and macramé plant hangers from Etsy. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A vintage 1960’s print ‘Saw Ohn Nyun’ by Sir Gerard Kelly from Smith St Bazaar, mirror from The Junk Co., dining table made by Lilli’s Uncle, Kim Moir, Danish Sideboard from Gumtree, and assorted glassware hand me downs from Lilli’s Grandmother and from The Junk Co. Jake’s assorted guitar collection on rack, including a custom-made Maton guitar gifted as a birthday present from Lilli. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The painting of Jacob by friend Wynona Miller, gifted by Lilli as for their wedding is one of her most loved possessions. Also in the room, hanging rug from Ishka, rug from IKEA, and vintage print, pots and bowls from assorted op shops and garage sales. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lilli Waters and Jake Cole

Photographer Lilli Waters and musician Jake Cole rent a beautiful three bedroom home in Pascoe Vale.

‘I remember after a weekend of house inspections, feeling so depressed at the falling apart shacks we had seen, we sent an email to the real estate on a Sunday basically begging for them to accept us, and they did!’ recalls Lilli. The pair wasted no time in making their new surroundings feel like home, establishing a veggie garden, and decorating with a varied mix of furniture, textiles and art.

If you’re not lucky enough to rent a home with existing hooks or picture rails for hanging artwork, try 3M hooks – a great solution for artwork display, without damaging walls.

Revisit Lilli and Jake’s home here.


Poppy Lane and Scott Gibson’s Eltham family home. Open plan kitchen. Pop & Scott couch in foreground. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Main bedroom. Pop & Scott bed, painted stumpie, bedside dreamweaver and extra large pot. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking from master bedroom into bathroom. Dane Lovett artwork on left wall, Angelucci couch and vintage kids armchair. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Poppy Lane, Scott Gibson & Family

Renting has been no barrier to creating a uniquely personal family pad for Poppy Lane and Scott Gibson of Pop & Scott. For these two clever creatives, simple updates such as replacing light fittings and window furnishings, and taming an overgrown garden have had a huge impact.

Revisit Poppy and Scott’s home here.

Living room/reading corner. ‘Take A Line For A Walk’ armchair by Alfredo Häberli for Moroso. Pillow by Air France Premiére. Coffee table called Offcut by Tom Dixon. Thin Lamp by Juniper Design, Blu Dot sofa, handmade rug from India and paddle from flea market. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

PieterJan Mattan and Jett House’s apartment in TriBeCa, Manhattan. Open living room including a 12 inc tall teepee that was a Craigslist find and vintage library ladder. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

PieterJan Mattan and Jett House

New Yorkers are the ultimate renters – this is a city where house-proud tenants stay put for many years (even decades) in one apartment, and often repaint the walls, or even renovate the kitchens in their rented homes.

The apartment of creative consultant PieterJan Mattan and UX designer Jett House in TriBeCa is a proper old school New York loft, in a 200 year old building which was originally an umbrella factory. ‘This place needs constant care and attention, something breaks every month, and it gets cold in the winter with our giant single glass windows… but they say that’s old New York charm!’ says PJ.

Revisit PJ and Jett’s New York apartment here.

The Collingwood shared apartment of Sarah Booth, Art Rowlands, Roya Azadi and Gian Manik. Borge Mogensen couch (right) and two marble coffee tables that Roya designed. Photo by Eve Wilson. Production by Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

‘The kitchen is a big focus of our home life,’ tells Sarah. Photo by Eve Wilson. Production by Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Sarah Booth and Housemates

Share house living is a rite of passage for many young Australians, and the Collingwood apartment of Sarah Booth (of Tiggy CafeFlour Market and B’OK Flowers) is the ultimate Melbourne share house. This home is the sort of versatile, open plan space that is a magnet for creative people – both those who live here, and a steady stream of friends and creative collaborators.

This household revels in the ‘communal’ aspects of co-habitation. They cook for each other, watch TV together, and offer encouragement and input on each others’ various creative endeavours. They even ran a pop-up restaurant here a couple of years ago, which seated 40! A hive of activity, in every sense.

Revisit Sarah Booth’s eclectic share house here.

Detail from the Dandenong Ranges home of artist Miranda Skoczek & family. Artwork by Miranda’s close friend Emily Ferretti from Sophie Gannon gallery, French table, Eames LCW chair from Living Edge, Kashmiri silk rug, Gubi lamp from Cult, bookshelf from Bunnings, and Mexican mask. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Hallway goals! Glass painting from London above a Balinese farmer’s hat and Ercol love seat from Temperature Design. To the right,  Boucherite rug from Loom, fine art photograph by Leila Jeffreys and Blue Bird Bottle by Leah Fraser from Arthouse Gallery. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Miranda Skoczek and Family

The colourful home of artist Miranda Skoczek in Upwey, at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges, is testament to just how much personality you can inject into a space without making any structural changes.

Miranda collects art, furniture and beautiful objects obsessively. Her home is a celebration of her favourite things – this is a place where Australian contemporary art sits alongside vintage textiles, contemporary design pieces are celebrated equally alongside tribal relics, and Asian antiques perch perfectly alongside  vintage ceramics from Portugal to Japan, Ethiopia to the US. Miranda is a bowerbird in the truest sense.

Revisit Miranda’s home here.

Housemates Laura Jones, Alex Standen and Mirra Whale share this Sydney home. Kitchen, newly renovated by all three girls. ‘This picture reminds me of how amazing a transformation our kitchen has made!’ says Alex. ‘It used to be so dark but our friend Celia Gullett found this amazing window on the street, Mirra knocked a hole out of the wall to put it in, and then suddenly we had the most beautiful bright kitchen’. The plate hanging on the right above the sink is by their friend and fellow artist Luke Sciberras, and all the ceramic bowls are made by Alex. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Large painting by Laura Jones, which are constantly changing based on exhibitions. ‘Our artwork is on high rotation for this reason!’ says Laura. Couch is Laura’s, cushions from EDIT.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Laura Jones, Alex Standen and Mirra Whale

Artists and housemates Laura Jones, Alex Standen and Mirra Whale know the owner of their rental property, which has given them the freedom to significantly improve their rambling, three bedroom home. They’ve ripped up carpet and painted walls, but their most impressive project has been the DIY renovation of their kitchen! (Such a top effort!)

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 almost all of the ceramic tableware in the kitchen was made by Alex, and is used daily.

Revisit Laura, Alex and Mirra’s house here.

The Gertrude St residence of Kate Stokes, Haslett Grounds and their little one, Mariko. Mariko’s little cubby house room built in a corner of the lounge room by Haslett.  Poster from Third Drawer Down, blanket on bed in foreground by Uimi. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The incredible Fitzroy apartment of Kate Stokes of Coco Flip, Haslett Grounds and their baby  daughter Mariko (also known as ‘Kiko’!). Kilim rug from Loom, hanging sculpture by Sophie Moorhouse Morris, weaving by Hanne Ibec, Bucket coffee table and Puku ottomans by Coco Flip, lounge from Grandfather’s Axe, floor cushion from Camberwell Markets, Cacti floor stand from Mr Kitly, sideboard made with friends from Archier. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kate Stokes and Haslett Grounds

Since we first featured their beautiful rented apartment, designers Kate and Haslett have expanded their family, and moved into a bigger place (!) but we’re still super inspired by their creative solutions for this expansive one bedroom apartment in Fitzroy.

Most impressively, when they found out they were expecting their first bub, instead of seeking a house with more bedrooms, Haslett and Kate responded creatively, by designing a mini cubby-house inspired bedroom for Kiko in the large living space! (Genius!). They also softened the space with the most impressive collection of indoor plants – it makes such a difference in a lofty space like this.

Revisit Kate and Haslett’s home here.

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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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.