This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Wonderfully Unconventional Fremantle Home

Homes

For authentic indoor-outdoor living, look no further than this truly unique Western Australian home.

Artist, educator and owner-builder Ian de Souza has been reworking this block since he bought it in the ’80s!

18th October, 2017

Outdoor kitchen and dining. Ian built the 22-seater table with steel wheels from a mining cart – he and Ros love to entertain, often cooking over an open fire. Oil on canvas ‘Undercurrent’ by Ian on the left, and ink on rice paper ‘Illyarrie’ artwork to the right. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Ian paints on a large sliding easel in his steel and glass studio. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Ian’s art studio. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Looking through their outdoor dining into Ros’s office – a vintage train carriage. Oil on canvas, ‘Freedom’ by Ian. Pot plant and basket from Little Leaf Co. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Homeowners Ian and Ros de Souza. Ros is wearing a limited edition silk wild flora print scarf designed by Ian. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

High limestone walls provide privacy for the ensuite. A painting by Ian, on the right, hides the toilet. Brown vessel from Shedwallah.Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

In the ensuite, a painting by Ian hides the toilet. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Lush courtyards connect a handful of largely open dwellings fulfilling Ian’s deep-rooted need for open living. The yellow chair is vintage and the blue and grey stone artwork by Liesbeth Goedhart. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Before moving to Fremantle, Ian restored a 14th century stone home in the Languedoc region of France so, for him, building a large outdoor fireplace was key. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Looking through their bedroom to the ensuite. The chairs are by Norbert Perrine Design Concept, and the nude oil painting, ‘Lady in Blue’ is by Ian. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

In winter, Ian and Ros eat with friends at the table in their bedroom, in front of a roaring wood fire. The chairs are by Norbert Perrine Design Concept. The nude oil painting, ‘Lady in Blue’ is by Ian. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Looking through their living area into their bedroom; the scattered Persian rugs are from Agra in India. The large aluminium-framed artwork ‘Contiguity: Tableau of Composition’ by Ian, was a 2006 Mandoorla Art Show finalist. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Ian’s art studio, down a lush pathway, features a sliding easel and art hung from the ceiling. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Also an accomplished musician, Ian is babysitting the Bluthner grand piano with original ivory keys for a friend. Mixed media collage ‘Body of Dance’ by Ian. Pot plant and basket from Little Leaf Co. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Nikki Liley
Wednesday 18th October 2017

‘I’d prefer no walls, just art on sliding panels instead.’ – Ian de Souza

When they married in the 1980s, arts manager Ros left behind a Country Road-inspired home to join Ian de Souza on this Fremantle block, taking with her only a dusty pink frilly Sheridan doona cover! ‘You couldn’t get further from Ian’s masculine batik style,’ laughs Ros. ‘He was mortified.’

Inspired by traditional Arabic homes, high limestone walls on three sides of the property conceal an art studio, vintage train carriage and rammed earth dwelling, connected by lush courtyards. Having repurposed the driveway for Ian’s art studio, the front gate serves as a front door. ‘It’s a 410 square-metre battle-axe block, and we use every scrap,’ explains Ros. Inside Ian’s steel and glass studio, art hangs on the ceiling like in the Sistine Chapel.

Further in, a rammed earth dwelling contains Ros and Ian’s bedroom and bathroom, while a vintage train carriage houses Ros’ office.  The living area in between is open both sides most the year. Their shower is outside, and the kitchen virtually outside too. ‘We used to sleep outside,’ adds Ros.

Ready entertainers, Ros and Ian’s guests sit around the 22-seater table on rails, which Ian built with steel wheels from a mining cart, while they cook Asian curries over an open fire or electric wok – since they don’t have an oven. Initially, for council approval as a dwelling, Ian had to install a stove but he pulled it out after inspection. ‘I was a bachelor then, I ate at the Freo markets instead!’ he says.

Ian’s motivation for indoor-outdoor living actually stems from claustrophobia. ‘Growing up in Malaya and Singapore during Japanese occupation, the Japanese were always after us,’ he explains. ‘We moved house 33 times one year, always hiding in cupboards and under beds. I’d prefer no walls, just art on sliding panels instead.’

Regularly open to the public for garden days and art walks, people come from everywhere to get a peek at this unique home.  ‘One magical summer evening, three nuns shuffled around like brown–coated Daleks,’ Ros recalls!

Having a few thousand people traipse through your private sanctuary is a ghastly thought for many, but Ros and Ian have never felt that way. With nothing to hide, and everything to share, the real charm of this home is the de Souzas.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

A Textile Trader's Colourful Sydney Apartment

The richly layered and art embellished home of Chrissie Jeffery, owner of textile and interior decorating business No Chintz.

Homes

Fran and Adrian Welke

A versatile home/showroom/studio in Fremantle's industrial zone.

Homes

A Creative Carlton Cottage

The cosy, creative share house of TV production crew Courtney Webb and Maddy Worthington.

This Week

Art

10 Unmissable Art Exhibitions of 2019

Our pick of not-to-be-missed art exhibitions for 2019, Australia wide – clear the calendar!
Miriam McGarry

Tiny Homes

This Home Transforms Neglected Housing Stock Into Micro Luxury!

The 'tiny home' phenomenon continues... explore the Type Street Apartment from Tsai Design.
Miriam McGarry

Modernist Australia

A Home Where Summer Holidays Never End, And It's For Sale

A miracle confluence of premier Victorian beach town, and preeminent Victorian architect Guilford Bell, designed in 1973.
Patricia Callan

News

What To Do On Your Next Summer Roadtrip

Bush Heritage Australia remind us what to consider (and what’s at stake if we don’t) as we venture outdoors.
Elle Murrell

Every Painting Tells A Story

This Painting From 1862 Reveals A Dramatic, Cautionary Tale!

A family loses their fortune in dramatic circumstances, in this captivating work from the National Gallery of Australia's 'Love & Desire' ex...

Homes

A Home Of Joy and Light, With Alex McCabe Of Kip&Co

Explore the bright, effervescent home of Alex McCabe and family, in St Kilda.

News

Elka Collective's Calming New Flagship Store

Pairing luxe, natural materials with a soft colour palette, this fashion retailer’s new store reflects its brand ethos.
Sally Tabart

Interiors

An Elegant Makeover Of A Classic California Bungalow

Sarah Elshaug of Maitland Street Interiors takes us inside her renovation of a 1930's California Bungalow in Melbourne’s Glen Iris.
Elle Murrell

Art

This Exhibition Is A Tribute To New York Museum Wanderings

Sydney-born, New York-based artist Adriana Picker returns to her home city to unveil 'Vases from the MET' in Paddington this week.
Miriam McGarry
  3 hours ago

News

Mercedes me Achieves carboNZero Certification

The Mercedes me Melbourne cafe and event space has been recognised for their ongoing commitment to sustainability.

News

Stephen Baker Adds A New Panel To His Iconic Fitzroy Pool Mural

Pool Parade gets an update from the legendary Melbournian artist!
Sally Tabart

The Tools I Use

The Tools I Use · Phillip Withers

We go behind-the-scenes and inside the toolkit with legendary local landscape designer, Phillip Withers!
Sally Tabart
  11 hours ago

Art

7 Women Shaking Up The Australian Art Scene

The trailblazing artists making their own unique mark on Australia's creative landscape. 
Elle Murrell

Food

Lucy's Extra Special Potato Salad

A fancy, French-style potato salad with all the trimmings!
Lucy Feagins

News

Huge Names Added To The 'All About Women' Festival

Including Michelle Obama’s former Chief of Staff!
Sally Tabart
  3 hours ago

Similar Stories

Homes

A Textile Trader's Colourful Sydney Apartment

The richly layered and art embellished home of Chrissie Jeffery, owner of textile and interior decorating business No Chintz.

Homes

Fran and Adrian Welke

A versatile home/showroom/studio in Fremantle's industrial zone.

Homes

A Creative Carlton Cottage

The cosy, creative share house of TV production crew Courtney Webb and Maddy Worthington.