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

Small Business

How Can Your Business Give Back?

Steps you can take to make a positive impact through your workplace, with sage advice from the legends at Who Gives A Crap.
Fiona Killackey

News

Local Artists And Designers Feature At This Brunswick East Craft Fete

Bringing back the neighbourhood vibe at this FREE one-day community event!

Homes

A Media Mogul's Inner City Oasis

The Fitzroy apartment of Melbourne power couple Nick Shelton and Catherine Graves.

Interiors

Karen McCartney's Dreamy, Rustic French Farmhouse

A dream European outpost for two of Australia’s most respected design aficionados! (And yes, it's available for holiday rental).

News

Our Guide To The Biggest-Ever Melbourne Design Week

Australia’s creative capital transforms into a thriving design hub this March!
Sally Tabart

Modernist Australia

This Corner-Block Mid-Century Classic Is For Sale

A modernist treasure that hasn't changed hands since the late 1960s!
Patricia Callan

Events

TDF Talks @Mercedes me, Round Two!

David Bromley, Peter Maddison, Paul West, and Justine Cullen in-conversation at Mercedes me – book now!

Architecture

An Architect's Own Dream Home

Sally Wilson of sw-architects shows us around her newly renovated home in Woodville, South Australia.
Miriam McGarry

News

A Way For All Australians To Celebrate Robin Boyd's 100th

Australia Post releases a commemorative stamp acknowledging the seminal architect’s centenary.

News

Dinosaur Designs Releases An Earthy New Collection Today

The latest from the Australian-made homewares brand, inspired by the colours of the Australian desert.

Shopping

Morocco Meets Byron Bay In This Modern Bohemian Wonderland

A virtual visit to the rug and artisanal object treasure trove that is Tigmi Trading.
Elle Murrell

News

Klaylife's Dramatic New Range

Macrame and clay beads combine for a spectacular new collection of chandeliers.

News

A New Exhibition Of Raw, Gestural Works From Miranda Skoczek

One of Melbourne’s most collectible contemporary artists opens her first show of the year tomorrow.

Interiors

A Suitably Fashionable Home, From Two Brilliant Creatives

Interior designer/stylist extraordinaire Simone Haag revamps a Victorian Terrace in Armadale.
Miriam McGarry

Food

Nutella, Sea Salt And Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Charlotte Ree's epic choc-chip cookie, with all the trimmings!
Charlotte Ree

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.